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3 Sure Fire Ways To Ensure Data Analysis Paralysis

by Simon Spyer on Jul 22, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Optimise Your Marketing With High Quality Data Analysis

3 Sure Fire Ways To Ensure Data Analysis Paralysis

It's a familiar story: Big Data is getting bigger and it's difficult to know where to start. Many companies know the potential but have data silos, are hampered by multiple versions of the truth and lack a data strategy. 

Inevitably, the quality of analytics suffers and the question has changed by the time an analysis is complete.

We don't think that it should be like this.

Information is the lifeblood of any business and the process of turning insight into actions is critical to the success of an organisation in building and retaining competitive advantage.

Too often though we see organisations who are information rich but insight poor.

Here are three common approaches that ensure analysis paralysis.


1. No Brief

It's very easy to set hares running and a poor brief will lead to what we call "wallpaper": generic information that doesn't tell you anything and which destroys more value (by wasting time producing and reviewing it) than it creates (by telling you something new, enabling a process to be optimised or supporting the development of new hypotheses).

A brief should be precise.

It should outline clearly the business problem. It should state what you already know and how you know it.

It should also be very clear on the time available and what the output needs to be (physically but also in terms of who the audience is and their level of understanding).

Don't start any data analysis without one. 

2. So What?

This is critical.

Far too often, the output of an analytic or research project is a massive PowerPoint presentation crammed with tables, charts and bullet points.

Nothing smacks of paralysis like a massive PowerPoint presentation.

If you are presenting your analysis

Presenting analytic work should be no different to any presentation - it's about you, your opinion, your recommendations and the use of PowerPoint should only be a prop to dramatise your words and support you.

Focus on the business question that you were asked and then give your answer concisely.

What are the two things that you want your audience to remember one hour after your presentation?

Having cracked through lots of work, difficult analyses, often over several weeks, make sure that you allow yourself enough time to create a compelling executive summary that answers the business question and presents your output in an engaging, clear format.

99% of the time, the first slide(s) of these presentations go over the methodology, the sources used etc.

You are the expert and your audience will expect you to have used the right methodology and sources. Starting a presentation in this way doesn't make any impact and will turn your audience off.

Have a look at Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds for practical and inspiring advice on presenting information.

If your work is being communicated as a report

Focus on the audience and what they can directly affect. Consider:

  • The minimum amount of metrics to make the best decision possible;
  • Showing only metrics that the user can directly affect are displayed;
  • Providing a hierarchy of information so that the most important metrics are most visible;
  • Making underlying tables unavailable or only available through navigation.

3. No Translation 'Layer'

Taking a learning and making it meaningful shouldn't always be the responsibility of the analyst.

The 'so what' is often best coming from a bi-lingual working directly with the analyst(s). 

Bi-linguals are people that understand analytics and can articulate its commercial implications in a compelling way.

They are not always discipline specific and this is an opportunity to start breaking down silos and to really get information and insight powering the business. 

8 Data Analysis Questions Every Marketer Should Ask

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This post was written by Simon Spyer

Co-founder & Insight Partner at Conduit, professional insight-monger, dad, lover of all sport and Spurs.

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