Creating Impact is the Art of Analytics

In my last post, I talked about the science of digital analytics. Now let’s talk about the art. Analytics is as much about the art of business as it is reading data. Business context is not just about what products are launching and what campaigns are running. That is the “what” of business. It is the “why” that drives insight. For example:

  • Why is a campaign running for this category? Do we need to goose sales?
  • Why is this product release important? Is it opening a new product category?
  • Why is there pressure to reduce marketing spend? Are sales declining?

Business context is so important to good analysis. And yet, I have often found the people requesting reports are not sufficiently skilled in business strategy. They forget to ask “Why?” Here are some avenues to understanding the business context.

#1 Quarterly calls and annual reports. An excellent resource for any public company. While these can be as dry as dirt, hold out to the end where the financial analysts ask questions. This is an absolute goldmine of business insight. This is the one time you can hear a CEO react to direct questions from analysts who either believe (or are skeptical of) the company’s plans. The questions represents pressure points for the company. Listen for growth and product line questions especially. Now look at your digital data again and see if it does not take on new life.

#2 Free courses. Occasionally something like this Coursera course for Pharma comes along. Wow. A whole lot of business context in a few short weeks.

#3 Internal mentors. Particularly in finance. While these folks may not be as brazen as the financial analysts from outside the company, they certainly know what is going on. Take one out to lunch and ask a few key questions. What kinds of business data is always requested? What does it mean to those who receive it? What do they do with it? Then think about how your digital data can provide more context and insight to this pre-existing structure. Just pick one area of focus and aim for impact. It’s easier to get on an existing data train then to build a brand new track.

Asking digital analysts to come up with insights while only giving them access to data is akin to reading tea leaves. Many quality analysts can make logical guesses but it’s only when we work as partners with the business that game-changing insights emerge.

Looking for a way to become more data-driven? I consult with companies who need a strategic view combined with tactical reality. We haven't met yet? Then follow me on Linked In or connect with me via this page. Serendipity is what happens when we all get connected.