Do we ask too much of our analysts?

Have you ever hailed a cab driver who is new to the city and asked him to take you somewhere that you know kind of exists but aren’t too sure where it is, but you need to be there in 30 minutes ?
Of you course you haven’t. But that is exactly what we are asking of our analysts

Whether or not the analyst is embedded in the client group, marketing function this is what we end up doing.
‘Hi Jeff, we ran this email campaign last month. If we get someone to extract some data for you would you mind pulling together some insights for us so we can present to the client the day after tomorrow?’
Sound familiar? Of course it does. We do it all the time. We have analysts. They are smart guys. They know about email metrics.

What’s the problem? Let me explain.

Our analysts help us move along the journey from Data, to Information to Knowledge, Understanding, and finally Wisdom

Ervick, Michael (2012) DIKW Perspective

They will often be tasked with moving numbers from its rawest form into some sort of organised collection say within Excel. Converting Data into Information. At this point we can do some Descriptive Analytics where we can talk about who did what, where and when. And to be honest as one off pieces of work, this is pretty easy for anyone to do.

It’s the next stage that begins to take some time, effort and to be honest a little bit of experience.
Before we can convert this information into Knowledge and Understanding (How and why things happened), the analyst needs to apply some experience and a theoretical framework to deliver. Experience because he knows that the manipulation, summing, averaging of certain pieces of data can give us some further knowledge. But it’s only by applying some framework to the thinking that he can help us really understand. This framework could be as simple as say the one that lies behind an A/B Test within that email campaign or slightly more complicated in the way that the campaign was delivered to multiple segments with varying copy and image permutations. 

And again, a smart analyst will make a pretty good stab at this but we would probably get the most out of him by involving them at the creation of the campaign and getting them to fill the measurement and evaluation piece of the brief. Not only does this then shortcut the time to delivering the Knowledge and Understanding (Insight) but will probably have resulted in a better measurement and evaluation framework to start with. 

When discussing the Business, Programme and Campaign KPIs it’s probably a good idea to have your analyst sit with you to make sure that the things you want to measure are actually the ones you should be measuring and in fact, that your tech allows you to. Even by sharing upfront what decisions you are hoping to make as a result of this activity will draw out any limitations on the original tracking/measurement requirements and indeed what improvements can be made to the Analysis Brief. 

‘Analysis Brief?’ I hear you ask. Of course. We have no issues providing a creative or editorial brief but seem to forget that to establish the effectiveness of the ensuing creative or copy, we need to make sure that their impact is analysed thoroughly . Without the Analysis Brief, we will only get delivered what the analyst thinks we wants, not what we all want.

Is it no surprise then that when you come to the real value add of insight generation, the gift of Wisdom in doing the right things going forward, we miss out and just end up in the first place the cab driver thinks looks interesting.