Melting pot of data or the importance of connecting the dots

Every day digital product teams, web analysts, conversion specialists, researchers sit in front of their two screens, opening each fancy tool in their bookmarks one by one, trying hard to wrap their heads around one question: “What do people do on my platform?”. The ultimate goal is, of course, to make the customer journey on their products meet and exceed customer expectations.

Endless possibilities out there today

In the era of big data, deep learning, data mining, machine learning, deep analytics, advanced analytics, classic research, neuroscience magic, etc. the possibilities are countless. It feels that every month there is a new hype term, a pop up summit and a brand new way to approach the core questions about consumer behaviour. Which data is credible, which insights are comprehensible? How much does each tool cost?

What is the best strategy – is it in the assimilation of new trends or on the contrary sticking to what has been known for a while – looking at the pool of tracking data and trusting the good old focus groups? Is it in some of it or in all of it?

Finding our way in the maze of tools

In the past more than ten years I have had the chance to work both on the industry and the service provider side. From academic institutions, via enterprises to start ups and scale ups. International, some pan-European, some stretching overseas. I have been in the shoes of the above mentioned looking-for-answers people as well on the other side of the table representing a product helping get better answers.

Across cultures and functions, even beyond competences and personalities, what always catches my attention and frankly my admiration, is the “persona” of those connecting the dots. In the abundance, not to say, paradox of choice, the most successful in their field and market segment are the ones who are able to choose a few spot-on complementing tools. Their ultimate goal and what they are great at, is to grasp the big picture, while being mindful of vital details. In that way, from the enormous melting pot of data signals they distil the main substance, the gist of it all and use it as a foundation in the decision-making process.

Main success criteria for a tool selection

Agreed, good tooling is important. But what shall we consider when selecting? At Objectiv I have the chance to hear the opinions of those product managers, analytics experts and digital gurus connecting-the-dots. There are six points that reoccur in conversations and I believe these are crucial to making the right choice:

1) Every tool should be easy to set up and straightforward to use
Complicated setups are no longer the norm in the present day. Product managers and analytics teams favour simple-to-hook-up, as well as to-use software. At Objectiv we aim at bringing the Workspace (main tool interface) more and more to a self-explanatory level. At the same time, there is always a Business Analyst making sure your needs are acknowledged. The technical onboarding is easy and we can connect to all of your data sources per request. That way you limit the amount of tools you open daily and ideally you have one “go-to” source. Along with that, an extra add-on that I have witnessed is when customers ask and receive recommendations about their analytics setup. Our processing allows us to spot areas where the event tracking can be optimised and we gladly share these findings.

2) A good tool should provide timely data
In fact, this is two-fold. On the one hand, the data should be recent enough to catch any changing behavioural patterns, which the principle of data velocity (= speed of generating) preaches. For instance, right after the outbreak of COVID in the Netherlands and among international customers in the United Kingdom and Switzerland, prompt depiction of the situation in Objectiv was very much appreciated. On the other hand, the data should cover a broad enough time frame to have meaningful results. At Objectiv, we abide by the cadence of the customer. Normally data updates are done once a month and the data insights cover the most recent calendar month. If the teams can act upon more frequent updates, we provide it.

3) A good tool should also guarantee data quality and trustworthiness
Today more than ever we agree that data veracity is of utmost importance, and technology now enables true use of Big Data. At Objectiv we use AI modelling to crunch huge volumes with varied signals to make sense of this sea of numbers. We focus on a desired outcome, e.g. increase conversion or boost engagement, and our algorithms propose the best goals to focus on. Afterwards they start working to give simple answers to challenging questions. Furthermore, we are striving at transparency at all times, and customers have access to elaborate methodological documents and raw data exports, shedding more light on the etymology of the insights.

4) A very good tool should give digestible findings within a context
It is a huge help in daily business if a tool does not “add” to the complexity, but actually gives digestible input that simplifies decision-making. At Objectiv we provide customers with differentiated insights, which our data models feed into the so-called “Topics”. As an example you can see which features or content on the customer product pages drive conversion and which hamper it. Or whether & which articles, file downloads and search flows contribute to users being more engaged. Additionally, we apply a “contextual layer” – meaning continuously scanning your front-end to provide the data models an understanding of your product as-users-see-it and providing this context in the Workspace so you can focus on true insights instead of making heads or tails of analytics events. What is more, we organise hands-on workshops in which we take customers by the hand in interpreting the findings. We provide a step-by-step approach to reading the data to every new user within your organisation, as well as any external partners you have.

5) An excellent tool should ease ideation and hypotheses building
The point about tangible insights is closely connected with the deliverable of an outstanding software. The best tools manage to both confirm some of your truths and at the same time disrupt your vision about parts of the customer journey/product. At Objectiv we inspire product ideation, and with it, innovation. Our customers manage to categorise the new insights they receive on a regular basis into: 1.“Wow, that is a true eye-opener, we did not anticipate it.”; 2. “Indeed, we’ve heard it from our customer service/user testing revealed the same.”; 3. “It is valuable information but our strategy goes in another direction, we will keep it in mind, though”. The first two cases are the majority and looking at the received feedback, Objectiv contributes to better prioritisation of roadmaps and generating fruitful ideas for further development.

6) A truly excellent tool also enables an intelligent decision workflow
A tool which really stands from the crowd and makes a difference is one empowering teams. Even the best insights are useless if there is no common ground and mutual agreement about what is to be tested and what is to be implemented in the product at the end of the day. Objectiv helps establish a smooth and well-grounded process: rallying stakeholders around data and supporting decision-making, providing traceability of decisions down to the evidence at the time and learning from results as a team. That is how a culture of ideation is fostered and “no ceiling” is reached.

Making the right choice to connect the dots

Choosing a tool is a multifaceted process and at the same time it is not. Find out which dots need to be connected for your product, where the knowledge gaps are, explore possibilities, tick the right boxes (e.g. the 6 steps to success above), melt the pot, and start deriving conclusions from the insights. Informed is the best decision-making you can have, and evidence-based hypotheses are the winning hypotheses!

Leave the gut feeling out of the door and give the power back to the data. Proper product implementation is then dependent on good testing ideas and speedy reaction. It all starts with fostering a culture of ideation and facilitating it with a few really good tools. Objectiv with its cutting edge augmented analytics is surely one to consider. Go for quality and do not follow every fad out there.

Good luck and hope our paths cross in the near future!

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