What is data exhaust, and why should it matter to your investment team?

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What is data exhaust?

Data exhaust (or exhaust data) is background data produced from online interactions and activities. While “exhaust” can conjure images of dark smoke clouds and smog, data exhaust gets its name from two primary features: 

  1. It’s largely overlooked by the users who produce it because it exists in the background
  2. It’s a product of other, more intentional activity

Where does data exhaust come from?

Background internet files (like cookies) that are related to internet activity are a type of data exhaust—their additional pieces of information created when you browse the internet. On the other hand, interaction data exhaust is a type of private data produced by email communications and contact records—massive, endlessly growing datasets created from daily business conversations. This data isn’t regulated in the same way your right to information privacy is, but it’s just as, if not more, valuable to your investment firm.

Global daily email volume is expected to surpass 376 billion emails by 2025. Zoom.us still receives more than 1 billion visitors daily. Every email or meeting invitation creates exhaust data. Names, email addresses, phone numbers, and job titles are valuable pieces of information that your team needs to store in their CRM.

Learn more about CRM data hygiene best practices to keep these massive fonts of data exhaust clean.

Capturing your data to turn it into deals

Access to contact details—and, by extension, your relationships with those contacts—is the only way your team can grow; your value as an investor comes from your professional network. The more information your team captures from their routine interactions the better. With this exhaust information available, they’ll have more contacts at their disposal, more information on hand to make better-informed decisions, and more resources to steadily grow your firm. 

Fuel your team’s network growth with data exhaust

Funneling your team’s data exhaust into your CRM creates a self-sustaining feedback loop of network growth. Data infrastructure tools—from third-party software like Zapier to relationship intelligence platforms like Affinity—can automatically capture data exhaust to support this loop. 

Data exhaust is frequently overlooked because it’s created passively. Intentionally capturing it is the first step toward using it to improve your deal and relationship management. By the end of the afternoon, it’s already hard enough to remember every email you send on a given day. Now try remembering every email your teammate sent that day. Unless you were on the thread, you probably wouldn’t know who they talked to until your Monday meeting. 

When managing hundreds of relationships across a multi-person team, understanding who talked to whom and when is vital to growing and maintaining your collective network. Preserving account details like job titles helps you recognize when an old client gets a new role so you can reach out and congratulate them. However, when users are responsible for managing these account records manually, these points are easily lost and relationships slip into obscurity.


Converting data exhaust into deal insights

The exhaust captured from your dealmaking process can fill in knowledge gaps and be used to map patterns. For example, dates and times from emails and calendar invitations can be tracked alongside deal data to get insight into the correlation between contact frequency and deal flow


Analyze how many touch points typically lead to a closed deal, how often your team had to be in contact (Weekly? Monthly? Quarterly?) before a prospect became an opportunity, and compare communication patterns across teams and verticals. If this exhaust escapes, you don’t just lose out on information; your team’s deal flow pipeline quickly turns into a black box—deals go in, and sometimes they don’t come out.

Don’t let your exhaust go to waste

Data exhaust is one part of a new age of digital information and insights. When individual data points are overlooked, they’re underused. Exhaust data is a building block in a larger data infrastructure that includes artificial and relationship intelligence and machine learning algorithms designed to make humans smarter and more efficient. 

Data exhaust may not have a prestigious name, but your dealmakers’ trash may be your greatest treasure.


Dyllan Thweatt
Content Marketing Manager
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