Data is usually were people turn to for information not inspiration. The way that we are trained is to look at data rationally, objectively and without emotions. We care about statistical lift, standard deviations, and p-values. We collect, collate and correlate numbers and it can all seem very black and white, very detailed and yes even for a data strategist, sometimes daunting.
You can end up counting and documenting each tree and missing the not so random forest.
There are times to be honest, where I find myself staring at my screen, looking at my code, my output, my table structure and I have to fight against the impulse of being lost in the minute.
As business produce more and more customer and behavioral data, and we should always stay grounded in our goal and the business value of the data.
Here are 5 quotes – that keep me focused on finding and delivering data driven value.
1. "My interest is not data, it's the world.” – Hans Rosling
This quote is key to me. I like data, but I like people and results more. When we structure and study data what we are trying to do is really learn about the world around us. It is the world that our customers live in. How we organize, analyze and deploy data has to be true to the world. Sometimes it can feel like data is the end unto itself, it isn’t.
2. “Behind each data point is a living, breathing human.” - Shafqat Islam
At relativ* understanding how, when and why people connect with brands is core to what we do. In understanding data, I find it the answers sometimes become a lot clearer, when you exchange the analyst hat for the human hat.
3. “With data collection, 'the sooner the better' is always the best answer." - Marissa Mayer
This is so simple but also very true based on my experience. One challenge we often see is a client desire to learn more about their audience, but also a hesitant to invest in collecting and tracking the right customer information. Data management is cumbersome but an invaluable enabler to all types of business insights.
4. “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” - Albert Einstein
This quote helps keep me focused and is something we try to consider when guiding our clients. Not all data matters – so we do have to be disciplined about what we collect and report on. As the saying goes … you can be data rich and information poor. One of the things we try to do is really understand what data does and does not matter against our clients business questions and goals, and then ruthlessly focus.
5. “Data, I think, is one of the most powerful mechanisms for telling stories. I take a huge pile of data and I try to get it to tell stories" - Steven Levitt
Data is about the world, and it is about people, so when we collect and count the right data, we can tell a powerful story about our client’s customers and their world. And one thing that I have learned is we all understand and remember stories much clearer than we remember confusion matrices and gains charts. The math, the statistics, the systems, the dashboards all work best when they are in service of both a business and customer story.