The Art of Objectivity in Data Analysis, Market Research

The Art of Objectivity in Data Analysis, Market Research

Lisa Wilke   |     March 14, 2022

Surrealism is one of my favorite art movements. I enjoy it all, from Dali's Persistence of Memory to Magritte's The Empire of Light series (I guess I'm not the only fan). Surrealist artists' ambition to resolve conscious and unconscious thought is fascinating.

The way we individually interpret that work is also fascinating. It makes me wonder how we all start with the same visual data — the artwork — and, through personal analysis, end up with different interpretations. And how those interpretations can sometimes be far from removed the artist’s original intent.  

I always want to know what they intend others to see. The answer would likely surprise us. It makes me wonder if art is really meant to be subjective, or are we simply misinterpreting the data right in front of our eyes? How do our individual biases inform the way we interpret the work?  

My appreciation for art – for exploring all those questions – has inspired me become more objective. It has helped me identify my biases by challenging me to understand why I see things the way I do.  When I can identify subconscious biases and become more objective, I can make better decisions that lead to a more successful life.

The same concept applies to the work I do for our clients every day – designing business intelligence solutions that help clients remove subjectivity and simplify their decision-making processes. This is critical. Leaning into the data can propel a company’s forward motion.  

How to remove subjectivity using data analysis 

How do we remove subjectivity from the decision-making process? The first step is to examine the big picture, so we better understand where information gaps and biases exist.  

The use of data as a decision-making tool will allow you to understand how well your company is meeting its goals. The added analysis will allow you to drill down into specific business areas to find which ones are performing well and where there are opportunities.  

Layering on research can further promote efficiencies through strategic planning and positioning. Like with people, you are using data to streamline and simplify the decision-making process, leading to better performance and driving competitive advantage.

There are many ways companies are using data and research to gain a competitive advantage today. We won't cover them all, but below are three ways data is used to drive down costs with more efficient operations, gain market share by creating unique products, and edge out the competition by improving advertising strategies: 

Drive down costs with more efficient operations  

  • Using data will lead to faster decision-making, so problems can be solved quickly, and opportunities won't be lost due to slow response time.  Removing the amount of time in the decision-making process greatly improves outcomes and drives down costs by reducing the amount of time and uncertainty creating by making decisions based on best guesses, gut feelings, and anecdotal evidence. 
  • Data can be used to find redundant tasks and streamline operations. Optimal resource use will drive down costs. Understanding where there are redundancies is imperative to running efficient operations.  Without identifying, quantifying, and comparing the output from each of the processes, you would have no way of knowing if the activities could be streamlined or reduced.  Once redundant processes are identified, resources can be reallocated, and productivity will be increased without raising overall cost. 

Gain market share by creating unique products 

  • Use research to understand the market and business landscape to improve product offerings.  Knowing what competitors offer, what consumers want, and other important product information is necessary when determining your product strategy. Once you have the data, you can use analysis to find gaps in the offering and respond by meeting that need with a niche product. 

Edge out competition by improving advertising strategies 

  • Using audience data to inform targeting and messaging strategy will lead to a more effective use of advertising dollars. Identifying who your audience is and what messaging resonates with them allows you to advertise to those most likely to purchase with messaging tailored to them, generating a lower cost per acquisition.  This gives you the advantage over your competition as you can increase advertising to the right audience without increasing your overall budget.  
  • You can also use data to understand the response rates of audience segments within your advertising channels.  Using your data to know where your audience is and meeting them there can allow you to concentrate your advertising budget in channels where your audience is most likely to be, which should further drive down your cost per acquisition and allow you to outmaneuver your competition. 

A data-driven culture 

As you can see, just as introspection allows us to become more objective – and more successful – decision-makers, it can do the same for companies. It gives us insight, and it forces us to collect our data and research ourselves. It is a beautiful framework and can apply to all areas of our lives. And it all starts with data. 

To shift to a data-driven culture, you first need to build the supporting infrastructure, including support to change the culture. This can seem daunting, but you may already have more than you think, depending on where you are starting. Here are some questions to help you get started: 

  1. What technology do you currently use? Google Analytics? Salesforce? 
  2. What are your company's goals?  
  3. How is performance measured today? 
  4. Do you have internal resources available to support a data strategy? 
  5. Who would be necessary to shift the company to a data-driven decision-making culture? 

Once you have those answers, you can begin to build a data-analysis strategy that allows your business to grow into a data-driven culture.  Depending on how large the organization is, these questions might not have simple answers, but if you get stumped, know that Falls & Co is here to help. 

Nurture your love for objectivity 

As an art lover, I'm OK with some subjectivity. But the analyst side of me? Not so much.  

Objectivity in business, beginning with data, is crucial to success. You can use data to measure and track performance, gain competitive advantage, and even position and plan strategically for the future.  It allows for efficient decision making and removes potential for error.  Although a spreadsheet isn’t a Magritte or a Dali, peace of mind that you are making the right decision is a beautiful thing. 

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Lisa Wilke

Lisa Wilke is VP of Market Research and Analytics at Falls & Co. She formerly worked in various marketing, digital media, customer experience, and analytics roles at Progressive Insurance. Contact us to learn more about how Falls & Co. can support your Market Research and Analytics needs.