In Case of Data Blindness, Click Here

The latest blog post from QueryTree’s Dan Thompson is out. Below is a short introduction to this month’s piece.

I love Google Analytics. It’s done more than any other tool or resource to introduce people to the world of data and data analysis. It’s also immensely powerful. And free.

The only problem with Google Analytics is that, like so many data analysis platforms these days, it follows the “gather some data now, figure out what to do with it later” pattern. It’s not the only culprit. Big Data technology now makes it practical to adopt this gather first approach everywhere. You can throw all your data into a big bucket and when you need to find something out, you can go digging.

It never used to be this way. In larger organizations and more established companies they still have teams of Business Intelligence specialists. They build data transformation processes, set up reporting platforms, and implement the reports that managers ask for. It used to be that you needed these people, and when you hired them you got something extra for free: the time and space to think about whether you were asking the right questions. Not any more.

When you take away the techies, and all you have are managers exploring their data in Google Analytics, QlikView or Tableau, it turns out you don’t magically get insights. As nice as the standard reports and fancy charts are, people end up saying “Huh, our bounce rate went up 2.3 points this month… I wonder why?”

Nice charting and drag & drop interfaces do sell analytics tools, but they also give people data blindness. Like snow blindness, only data-y. There’s so much to play with that you never get past the playing and down to some serious work.

So when you find yourself succumbing to data blindness here’s what you should click: The minimise button.

Step one to doing analytics well is to stop playing around, to step back, and to think about what it is we’re trying to find out. As this tweet from the experts at InciteBI says, start with an understanding of what you want to know.

To read the rest of Dan Thompsons blog post, click here

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