Don’t get blinded by the data
Over the course of the past years we could observe a clear trend towards measuring and quantifying the whole environment around us. Whether it be tracking our fitness level with our watches, number of likes on our social profiles, numerous surveys for our satisfaction with different products or services, measurement of our brainwaves and eye tracking or the big data analytics in the background, which are often completely invisible to us. There are only few areas of our daily life, which are not yet quantified – even our own happiness is measured and quantified for the ‘World Happiness Report’.
This is showing us two things: Firstly, our data is often far from flawless and more importantly, we must put down our blinders and start looking to the left and right of our data.
Often, it is not enough to rely just on objective quantitative data in order to develop really powerful solutions for a problem. When thinking about your partner, you already gathered a lot of data about him/ her: e.g. favourite movie, favourite music, favourite food, date of birth, height, size of shoe, gender and so on. But do you already know what you will buy for him/ her for Christmas? The same applies to many companies. They have already gathered a lot of data about their customers but are often still struggling to develop new products or services for the very same customers.
Why? The fixation on purportedly objective and quantitative data is just too big! We have to detach ourselves from this fixation and begin to read between lines again. Enrich the numbers with observations and anectodical evidence in order to create a context for all that digits. Because only by contextualising data it will become reliable and robust.
Together with our clients we often detach ourselves from this narrow view when working on projects of different variety. Often, all the behaviours of the customers are already fully quantified when we start our projects but the big question of “why?” remains still unanswered. So we try to delve deep into the customer’s world with observations, experimental set-ups, gathering artefacts from their daily life and engaging in a profound dialogue with users and customers. Such research explorations are producing much more multi-layered and complex results than any classic quantitative research.
Anectodical evidence like observing emotions erupting when using a product or listening to childhood memories may be much more subjective. This is not only delivering incredibly important contextual information but also leads to much more innovative train of thoughts and problem solutions by stimulating our creativity with their much more tangible and graphic nature.
With the help of this subjective observational data, we were able to identify all the different needs within diverse customer bases and in a next step successfully develop new strategic approaches. Since even in today’s world with all the standardized means of AI, sensors and big data, the sensible human cognition is still irreplaceable.
Therefore, we at the savvy company always advocate for combining a set of different methodological approaches and to meaningfully combine quantitative data with observational and qualitative approaches. That is the only way to fully grasp our often very complex environment and to make the right and informed strategical decisions.