Simon Terry

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Actionable insight matters more than big data.

Don’t worry how big your data is. Focus on how actionable your insights are.

The only thing that delivers business value is turning insights into effective action. Big data can deliver new insights but they will only drive your business when they are put into action to create new sales, save money or create other ways delivering better value in line with your strategy.

Many companies forget to leverage the insights in their existing customer systems. Do your people remember to make a birthday call to a key client using data in your customer relationship management system? Do referrals, leads & other opportunities identified always get executed effectively? Are anniversaries, expiry dates and other retention triggers well managed? Before you launch into new insights make sure you have captured the low hanging fruit.

Big data is often celebrated with examples of counterintuitive insights. Counterintuitive insights are hard to predict and equally hard to action. People doubt the strategies that come from black boxes. Doubt is not a great enabler of action. Organizations often lack the capability to execute the counterintuitive strategy. For example, knowing that left handed plumbers are more likely to watch opera is not much use unless your opera company has a hardware partnership.

Big data is often sold as a source of new strategy. It is rare that a company changes strategy on one insight. Usually, insights enable you to better execute your current strategy. These insights will confirm the hypotheses you used to create the strategy and translate general plans into the right actions with specific customers. Start your focus on better insights with what you need to do to drive your current strategy and leverage your existing capabilities.

Before you boil the ocean in a battle of data completeness, decide what you need to know and can use to create value. Invest in the capabilities to better action insights. You might be surprised by the insights you already have that are opportunities. Focus your insights on driving your business, not the size of your data bill.


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