For a while this summer I was the smartest guy on my team without a doubt. Now, what does that fact tell you; that I’m extremely intelligent? Not really, because there’s a bit more information you need to correctly interpret that fact, I was the only guy on my team this summer (the other guy quit). So while I may or may not be extremely intelligent, getting just one more piece of data keeps me from skewing the facts.
Data that gives you an opportunity with your audience, opens a door with a client or gives you the advantage in your market takes work to drill down to. It may take a bit of trial and error or require lots of time but when you actually gain insight it will give you new opportunities. Here’s a good piece about what insight is and isn’t and what insight can do for you.
We all inherently believe that insight is powerful and potentially game changing. Insight is more active than passive and is more than just a really interesting finding from a piece of analysis that no one ever knew before. It might be really interesting; it might be new, but…so what? Unless something is done with it or about it, then it’s nothing more than an interesting fact.
I remember listening to the head of the marketing services function of a large company talk for 40 minutes about the nature and meaning of “insight.” He talked about what insight was and why it was hard to deliver. The conclusion he came to was that insight is “contextualized information that changes behavior.” That definition rang true for me, as I’ve always thought that analysis without any subsequent action can’t be considered to be insight.
Real insight leads to some kind of change, either in the way that a company acts or its customers behave. That’s why companies demand it and that’s why it’s hard to deliver. It’s hard to deliver because information that changes behavior rarely comes from a single source. Insight is the compound effect of the analysis and interpretation of multiple sources of data. Data integration is still a big issue for a number of companies. If you think about it in the digital marketing industry, how much “insight” comes from a Web analytics system? Probably not a lot but when combined with other data from voice of the customer programs, customer databases, user testing, and so on – it’s the cumulative impact can lead to insights that change behavior.