ICMI is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Digging Through the Data--The Difference Between Data Gathering and Data Insight

Why are we so obsessed with data?

Everyone wants to talk about, everyone wants to boast about how they’re using data to understand their customers better but most importantly everyone wants data to be the sun, moon and stars to their queries about their customers. Data isn’t a silver bullet. Data can be very powerful and help organizations learn a huge deal about their operations, there’s no doubt about that. The problem is that many organizations are skipping some steps in their data management and not getting the return, other companies are gathering large amounts of data; failing to do anything with it and failing to understand how they can use the information.

So let's look at the difference between data gathering and data insight.

What is Data Gathering?

Data gathering is easy and a natural part of businesses today

It’s not difficult to start accumulating data, there are thousands of ways to do it. Everyday most businesses are doing it; tracking sales; the amounts, time of day, location, tracking customer activity; website views, customer logins, engagement metrics on social media, calls handled by the call center. Managing all this data and harvesting through it is the difficult part.

Data gathering is one of the first steps

Data gathering happens relatively close to the beginning of the process, the only things that might happen before it is objective planning and the request to start gathering data. The other steps in the process after data gathering is reporting, analyzing, harvesting insight and taking action based on the insight.

Data gathering is useless on its own

I say useless because data only has value when you analyze it to understand what it means and when you take action based on the findings and lessons learned as a result of studying the data. Data gathering by itself is a cost and only delivers return when it is paired with subsequent activities.

Data gathering is a crowd pleaser, a tick the box exercise and is influenced strongly by peer pressure

All the cool kids are doing it. Many businesses will start gathering data like crazy because of peer pressure to do so. They don’t want to be left behind. It’s a case of keeping up with the Jones’. Everyone wants to be seen doing something with it everybody will be happy that you’re gathering data. It’s on many a’ manager’s to-do list, they will have read the benefits in case studies or heard success stories at conferences and they’ll know it’s something they need to “get on”.

The problem with data gathering

Business prematurely pat themselves on the back for gathering all this wonderful data. When they have all the information they think it will be wonderful because they will know x, y and z. Unfortunately harvesting that data to produce the x, y and z involves a few steps that ideally should be carried out by experienced professionals.

What is data insight?

Data Analysis

Data insight is useful for big decision makers

Data insight is a bunch of facts based on information from (generally) your customer base, potential leads, your staff and their behavior. It’s not assumptions and it’s not based on industry research about trends. It can confirm or deny assumptions, it can provide unanticipated new lessons, and it can help an organization understand their business better. Big decision makers in an organization need information on their customers and their own company. Customer sourced information will form the foundation of any managers research, anything that can improve their understanding of customers will be welcomed and encouraged.

Data insight can give organizations a competitive edge

Effective use of data insight can be a differentiator. Amazon were the pioneers of differentiating themselves by using customer data to improve the customer experience. They used customer data to create a personalized experience and they were hailed kings for it. So rather than just sitting on the data they gained insights and applied actions based on the insights. They then set up a system that would use customer data and trigger actions in real-time. Is there are any better example of using data insight?

Data insight is the turning point for getting value from BIG DATA

Gaining insights from data is what produces the ‘aha’ moments for understanding customer activity, it often produces revelations for many businesses. It’s the turning point because all activity beforehand is leading toward that point and everything after it is as a result of the insight.

Data insight is difficult to decipher

It’s not easy to glean these insights from data, sometimes it can be like digging for oil! It requires expertise. How the data is organized plays a role of the level of difficulty in translating the information into findings, not necessarily the amount. Scroll to the end for tips for successfully digging through the data.

Data insight can help a business to understand large audiences

At last week’s Web Summit in Dublin, Europe’s largest tech event, one of the main conclusions drawn from discussions was that big data ultimately means understanding of big audiences. Many companies dream of the understanding a small well-run café has on its customer base; they can simply ask staff on any given day about the customers and instantly have most of the information they need. In larger organizations it’s not that easy.

“Large organizations need to apply clever listening and translation tactics across multiple channels to hear the true voice of customer” – Ann Marie Forsyth, CCA Global