Thursday, September 25, 2014

{re}thinking with Data

How do we go about finding insights?

Let's start with what we mean by 'insights' -- here's my working definition in the context of marketing:
the identification of a previously unknown connection between marketing activities and consumer behavior that changes how we align our solutions we human needs.
Or, simply the finding of something "I didn't know I needed to know."

The typical story line for doing analysis consists of the following chapters:
  1. State your objective
  2. Define your strategy and tactics for achieving them
  3. Create a measurement framework of KPI's that defines success
  4. Articulate the dimensions of the business/behavior you need to understand
  5. Set targets or goals that you need to compare to in order to track profess
And along the path you're defining a technical implementation and data capture plan to get from #1 to #5 and then refine.

If we're not careful, there are several risks in that plan.

First, we don't do all the steps...there is a tendency to jump in and build something; we forget to ask "why are we doing this in the first place?" enough times.    Think about the difference between Cliff Notes and the real thing.  A good essay requires reflection.

Second, we prematurely narrow the list of potentially valuable options.  This "focusing illusion" creates a bias because we tend to look no further than the first idea.  This is akin to judging a book by its cover. 

Third, we often view the problem in terms of outcomes related to our current business model not what might have caused them. While it is imperative to have metrics to track, they are simply links between behavior and performance.    Conversion rate is not a behavior.

The remedy to these risks is to spend more time thinking and that requires deep domain knowledge as well as the ability and willingness to explore.

For a good read try "Thinking with Data" by Max Shron

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