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Don't Be Data-Driven, Just Be Informed

Bobby JohnsonOctober 05, 2014

It seems you can't read anything about data these days without seeing the terms "data driven" and "insight". I get to spend a lot of time talking to people about how they actually use data, and I've realized that these terms are terribly misleading, and foster a misconception of how to use data effectively.

A much better way to think about data is that it *informs* you. It's not as grandiose and it sounds much less like magic or science fiction, but it turns out to be enormously more powerful.

Anything you do in life, you do better if you know what's going on.

Imagine walking into a dark room and trying to get to the other side of it. Rather than stumble through blindly and stub your toes, you turn on the light. The light doesn't "drive" you, and it would be a stretch to say it gives you "insight", but it makes you dramatically more successful in walking across the room.

Most things in life are like this. The outcomes you achieve aren't determined by some dramatic epiphany, they're determined by the thousand little decisions you make every day. Each of these alone might not be important, but they compound. And if you're somewhat more informed about each of them you'll have a much better result.

So data isn't a mysterious flash of genius brought to us by a wizard or an oracle. It's people knowing more of what's going on so they make better decisions based on reality instead of guesses:

  • Which way of describing my product do people respond best to?
  • How often do people click on that button?
  • Do people in India use my product the same way they do in the US?
  • Will the weather affect my sales?

It's not magic. It's people being better people when you turn on the lights and they see what's going on. It's *everyone* being better, which adds up to something really powerful.

So at Interana we want to build a product that makes data so easy that it's something you use every day to make every little decision better informed.

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