I love working with data analytics! The kinds of challenges that can arise when working with data, can be extremely complex and impersonal – like analyzing years of sales records to forecast future sales. Or they can be relatively simple and personal, such as trying to find the optimal way to visit all nearby family for the holidays.
Did you know you were using Analytics in the second case?
Many organizations who currently have in-house Business Intelligence or Analytics function might think of Analytics as being limited to pure numbers, number of sales, marketing dollars and similar pieces in the central data warehouse. I’d argue that there’s a lot more to it, and it would serve organizations well to look beyond the numbers and humanize their analytics.
Think about it this way – our every-day decisions are driven by communication, both in hard numbers and soft language. Since numeric data can be easily manipulated and computed, we can easily process information when it comes to numbers. Predicting next year’s forecast with last 5 years of sales? No problem!
Our soft communications on the other hand is a whole different story. Our communication is full of nuances, unspoken references, idioms and all the non-precise details that make it engaging. This information is messy, non-codified and is generally referred to as “unstructured.” Moreover, we have friends and networks where we share this information. In our networks, there may be cliques, influences and connectors (channeling my inner Gladwell here!). This all affects how we communicate the information, who we communicate to, and most importantly, what actions follow them.
Why should you care? IDC, IBM, and EMC all state that between 80% to 90% of data relevant to an organization is unstructured. In house examples of this data can include e-mail messages, word documents, videos, photos, audio files, presentations, webpages, and more. While the data may have a certain structure on its own, it may not have the right unified structure overall, and hence, will be termed unstructured. External examples are boundless, ranging from social media to digital content. This situation is scary because this data likely lives beyond the purview of your in-house Business Intelligence and data-oriented teams. In other words, “you don’t know what you don’t know.”
If you still need one more reason to care, consider this – according to Adweek, 81% of shoppers conduct research online before making a purchase. So all those rich data-sets containing blog comments, posts, and emails, which discuss your product in soft language, ultimately determine the hard sales numbers.
So it is high time we recognize the human story behind the numbers. Let’s humanize our analytics and look at unstructured and social network analysis.
“Humanized Analytics” is licensed under CC BY Mansfield Inc.
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