We need insights, not more data. Make that “Actionable Insights”.  -Anonymous Marketer

The inspiration for this post comes from a McKinsey article by byPeter Dahlström and David Edelmanwhich talks the coming era of on-demand marketing and how three distinct data lenses are needed for deriving insights about consumer decision journey.

Big-DataBenfiting from big data requires a well-thoughtout plan for data analysis relevant to your business needs scenarios. On one hand you need technology solutions that allow you to view the big picture, discover hidden patterns and make it easy to find blind spots. On the other hand you also need to have the exploratory and ad-hoc analytics capabilities that lets you drill-down all the way down to gain interesting insights at the most granular level such as a post or a customer. You need different lenses for your data.

The McKinsey article talks about three lenses: Telescope, Binoculars and Microscope. We also empahize the importance of real-time insights and visualizations to get to better data-driven decisions. Although the McKinsey article talk about a marketing scenario, the concept of ‘data lenses’ is equally useful for other bsusiness scenarios where you are working on large sets of structure and unstructured information.

Lets go over these data lenses, as defined by the McKinsey article, discuss the challenges and solution.

lunette1. Telescope. A clear view of the broad trends in your market, category, and brand is essential. Digital sources that track what people are looking for (search), what people are saying (social monitoring), and what people are doing (tracking online, mobile, and in-store activities) represent rivers of input providing constant warning signs of trouble or signals of latent opportunity.

Challenge:  The velocity and volume of data makes it hard to see trends.

Solution:  By presenting the insights from the data as real-time visualizations and defining a process and action plan to benefit from this info. This is one of the key value of social command centers. It is tough to ignore data when it’s in your face and when.

binoculars2. Binoculars. This lens aims to provide a complete, integrated picture of where a company spends its money, which interactions actually happen with customers, and what their outcomes are. That is, you are focused on your brand and compeititors.

Challenge:  At this level, you want to have more detailed data from a wide variety of your business situations. Customer touchpoints, performance of digital properties, transactional data such as sales.

Solution: You need technology that empowers business users to search, compare and mashup data of various types. As described in the article, such brand level analysis can be highly beneficial.

One bank has already realized millions of dollars in added value from the knowledge that weak points in the customer on-boarding process were undermining major marketing programs. Only when branches, call centers, and marketing worked together could the bank find the right fixes, improve customer satisfaction, and raise marketing’s return on investment.

microscope_023. Microscope. This lense allows you to zoom in to much deeper level and ultimately allows you to look at individual posts and customer profiles. How well do you know the customers, their likes and dislikes? Is marketing to the segment of one is possible? The most detailed lens is commonly used by analysts and managers to do advanced analysis.

Challenge: You are dealing with massive data sets, data is not always clean or complete. You may have to go through hundres of thousands of data points to get to a specific insight. Automated tools and algorithms are usually not sufficient to do this, requiring manual work.

Solution: The technology needs to support a more granular view of the same data set AND to take actions on it. A smart solution will leverage automated analysis first and then allow the analysts to apply their judgements. The Insights Dashboard in MutualMind’s social intelligence application is a good example of this type of lens. Analysts can click through the executive level dashboard, filter data or conduct Boolean search to find individual covnersations and their attributes.

Now that you understand the three types of lenses, you can plan your analysis better and choose the right product for your needs.

Images courtsey of OpenClipArt.

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