Monday, April 29, 2013

The 3 stages of data

The web is a glorious place that lets us collect data on almost everything a visitor does.  All this data is fun to look at and analyze with various dashboards and graphs, but it doesn't stop there.  Once you have found meaning in the data, you still have to use that knowledge.

These are the 3 stages of data: Collect, Analyze, and Implement.

Some data in easy to interpret and use.  If, in a split test, your visitors purchase more when exposed to version A vs B, the implementation is easy.  Show version A to all your visitors.

Most data insights are not as straight forward.  Consider the insight that people don't feel comfortable giving out their date of birth on your signup page.  Does this mean they don't trust your site enough to share personal info?  Should you not ask for a birth date or should you explain why you want to know?  Maybe the issue is unrelated and this is just a symptom.

When you don't have a clear path forward, you have to collect more data either through advanced collection techniques or testing, analyze the results, and try again to implement a solution.  It becomes apparent that even valuable data insights can take months to fully implement and realize.

It seems that while there are 3 stages of data, there is only 1 overarching goal:  Minimize the delay from collection to implementation.

If you're just collecting data and viewing it in a dashboard, your data isn't able to achieve its goal.

What do you do with your data?