Asterisk Intelligence has built a business around generating actionable insight from data. As simple as that may (or may not) sound, I often find myself explaining the difference between these two elements, data and insight. This distinction may seem trivial, but in actuality it is a very important aspect of our business and needs to be understood in order to fully grasp the mission of our team and the products we create.
I can think of no better analogy to explain this difference than the one given by Clive Humby in his presentation at the 2006 Association of National Advertisers Summit, where he stated that “data is the new oil.” Oil in its most crude form has little to no utility. It takes refining to harness its value; generating gasoline, plastics and countless other products. Similarly, data in its raw form has little value; it too must be refined to generate something useful, in this case insight.
Additionally, context must be included in order to refine data into actionable insight. Knowing a product of yours has 40% penetration is closer to a data element than actionable insight. Without knowing whether product penetration is increasing or decreasing, what the industry average is, or how this compares to peers, it is difficult to determine how to act upon that knowledge. Providing context with your data gives you the knowledge and confidence to take action on your insights and propel your organization to the next level.
When the next report or proposal crosses your desk, I encourage you to step back and consider whether you’re looking at data or insight. I promise you, vehicles run better on gasoline!