Friday, May 14, 2010

Insights vs. Analysis?

Data analysis and data insights.

Same thing, surely? Semantics?

Possibly, but I think there's a difference. In fact let me summarize with the 4 biggest differences:

1 Analysis is usually about results and performance. Insights are about turning opportunities into outcomes.

2 Analysis is mostly done using programs with fancy three and four letter acronyms. Insights uses fancy tools like Excel and Access to produce the data.

3 Insights are delivered in workshop style. The value is more in the conversations than the 'hard' data itself. Analysis typically looks something like this picture below. I've seen many analysis projects support really crooked desks and act as great door stops.

4 Insights provide context, analysis doesn't. For example knowing that a retention rate from one channel is half of that of other tells you nothing about why, how or what to do. It also may not provide any discussion or link to the relative value of those donors (with half the retention rate).

The point is data shouldn't just be about geeky stuff (although granted insights may be produced by geeky types). Data insights is about real actions and uncovering ways forward to grow (and make more money). It should be delivered by practitioners/fundraisers, not analysts.

I think the best way to measure the value of this is gauge the value driven from the discussion attached to any data project more so than the data itself.

Door stops can be handy, but insights much more useful to help you fundraise more effectively.


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