Thursday, 20 June 2013

Meaningful Data v Big Data

Hello, Abby here! I’ve just joined Bright North this week in the Marketing team and also do a spot of office management – a nice, varied role in a brilliant team where I’ve been tasked with helping to organise a group of about 20, all of whom at present share a single stapler and a rapidly declining supply of biscuits; something must be done!

I moved up to London about 3 years ago from Bristol, am studying for my Computer Science degree in the evenings and am so excited to be a part of a passionate young company that’s making waves in the Business Intelligence, Data and Tech industries.

It’s been a great week so far; we’ve published our first whitepaper on why Meaningful Data is more important than Big Data, which looks at the thought process behind the transformation of masses of chaotic Big Data and into something concise, informative and understandable that organisations can use to improve their products or services, save money, or understand their customers better. Definitely go and have a read if you haven’t already, and keep an eye out for future pieces from us.

In other news, I’m bracing myself for tomorrow’s CV secrets game where I come up with 5 things I wouldn’t put on my CV, four of which have to be true, and the team have to guess which one isn’t; I’m having trouble thinking of my four least embarrassing life events. Poker face practice starts now.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Why is it better to be a mystery solver than a puzzle solver?

Hello world!

Welcome to Bright North’s shiny new blog. What will we be doing here? The blog does not belong to one person at Bright North, it is the property and joint voice of all of us here, what we’re doing, thinking, learning, speaking about and teaching. Occasionally we’ll dip into a passion that’s not related to what we do for work. You’ll find it all here, our good, our bad, and our ugly!

Today it’s my turn (I work in the marketing team here) and I’d like to do a thinking piece about the difference between a Puzzle and a Mystery – why we’re mystery solvers not puzzle solvers… it was inspired by a New Yorker article by one of my favourite authors, Malcolm Gladwell.

Side note: I not only own every book by Malcolm Gladwell, but when working for an ad agency, I listend to the audio versions of each of the books on my weekly journey to and from Nottingham to see my then clients at Boots HQ. When I actually got the chance to meet the man in person at a book signing, I was so star struck I said – nothing, absolutely nothing.

So when a friend sent me this article with Malcolm Gladwell as the author that inspired him and said ‘this guy is making everyone who reads him a better thinker. amazing stuff – particularly relevant” I couldn’t wait to read it given my new role at sparky start up Bright North and the extremely smart, data sense-making collective it is. It left me smiling and nodding all the way… (Malcolm Gladwell’s original New Yorker article here.)

The premise is that a puzzle is solved by gathering more information, the problem being that you have a lack of information or missing pieces, and as long as you go out and find the information, or have the information told to you, you’ll have the answer. Whereas a mystery is solved by trawling through and deducing the answer or uncovering the story from information you already have. A rarer skill and a trickier harder thing to do. But not impossible or exclusive to the brainacs…

However, companies tend to approach growing their business as if they are solving a puzzle. Get out there and research why something isn’t selling in x area, or ask people what new product or feature they want, or what they need to say to make people want/consider their new product. Gathering more and more information that often tends to be cut or solely focused for the specific purpose you commissioned the research for, and everything else is irrelevant. Often to find the product feature or marketing message failing once live in the real world.

I’m sure we can find examples of this happening from our own careers. It’s easy to see why this happens, after all, no-one ever got fired for commissioning a piece of research (Or at least I would be very surprised if they had). If there is a problem to be solved, it seems a perfectly legitimate and proactive thing to do in order to try to solve it. There is a clear objective and an understanding that you will get something at the end of it.

But Company’s are often sitting on all the relevant information or Business Intelligence to deduce why a particular product is failing, or what is working and why, which direction they should pivot towards and why. It just takes an inquisitive inwardly looking individual within your organisation to understand that the story is there in the deluge of data. It’s scary, and it’s not always clear where to start or how to go about it – it can’t be as compartmentalised as commissioning a piece of research, but approaching it differently and reframing the question as not, what ‘one thing’ is the answer, but what is the bigger picture and the potential ‘answers’ from within is a much richer place to be. Be a mystery solver, not a puzzle solver.