The Four Types of Data Analysis That Inspire Innovation

June 19, 2019

The largest obstacle to change in any organization (no matter its size) isn’t a lack of money or time, it’s a lack of committed cooperation. Even bootstrapped start-ups can leapfrog mature conglomerates when a data-driven culture creates rapid innovation. Certainly smallness and singleness of purpose give startups an advantage, but even large organizations can experience agile change when data analysis becomes the foundation of decisions across all departments.

This does not mean that every employee needs to become a data scientist. Data exists in many forms, and everyone in an organization has the opportunity to adopt data-driven decision making. The diagram at right shows the four types of data analysis that organizations can use to accelerate change.

Unstructured Qualitative Analysis

When you want to understand CONTEXT, then unstructured qualitative is the type of analysis to pursue. Using open-ended questions (“Tell me about the last time you . . .”), eliciting stories, and observing behavior allows you to see a wider perspective of your customer. This type of analysis is not practical to scale up but may uncover unexpected information and is great for developing customer personas and user stories.

Example: A company that creates sustainably made water bottles is developing a new product line for hikers. They gather local outdoor enthusiasts, ask questions about recent hiking trips, hand out prototypes, and lead them on a day hike. From the experience, the company adds several hiking interest groups to their marketing plans, adjusts their product release date, and discovers an unforeseen product flaw.

Structured Qualitative Analysis

Surveys and interviews are classic examples of structured qualitative analysis, where the goal is to understand SENTIMENT and opinion about specific topics. Scaling up to many participants is easier, although some unforeseen information may stay undiscovered.

Example: A manufacturer of plastic coatings for PV modules is choosing which product features from their spec sheets should go on digital ads. They send out a survey to recent customers with both write-in and multiple-choice questions gauging opinions about three types of plastic coatings. From the results, they’re able to prioritize product features, add one unexpected feature to the list, and adopt some new branding language straight from a customer’s response.

Unstructured Quantitative Analysis

Building COMMON GROUND and a shared understanding is one of the most difficult tasks in an organization, but it’s crucial for issuing change. Unstructured quantitative analysis is one of the best ways to accomplish this, by letting people explore large data sets with dynamic, interactive visualizations. In this way employees create conclusions specific to their jobs using shared, consistent set of information.

Example: A solar installer decides to create interactive dashboards showing lead and customer data across sales regions. With this information at their fingertips, each sales associate can better understand the market saturation, customer needs, and opportunities for their specific region.

Structured Quantitative Analysis

When you’re looking for PROOF, structured quantitative analysis in its many forms is the answer. Hypothesis testing, data mining, and A/B testing are all examples that provide mathematical proof to specific theories. While powerful, these methods require strict adherence to certain principles, including sample sizing, statistical significance, and risk/variance analysis.

Example: A developer of utility monitoring software is trying to improve their website’s performance. They use an A/B testing solution to evaluate five homepage design variations. After a week of testing, the company discovers that design #3 performs statistically significantly better than the other four. When the new design is launched, the company notices a persistent increase in conversions.

As this article shows, data is not always about numbers, complex machine learning, and statistics. Hearing context-rich information straight from a customer’s mouth can be just as illuminating. If you’d like to kickstart your company’s innovation with creative, data-driven marketing solutions, reach out to Corbae Creative today.