12 Months of Analytics Inspiration
As a process-driven analyst, I appreciate the power of a good habit. I kept a daily desk calendar in 2017 for the first time in my life. I enjoyed pausing a moment each morning with a hot cup of coffee and a new inspirational quote before diving into measurement planning and analysis projects for clients.
As one year ends and a new one begins, I picked my favorite quote from each month last year to inspire fellow analysts to look at data analytics in fresh new ways. If you’d like to be inspired each month this year with a monthly quote reminder, make sure to connect with Evolytics on Twitter or Linkedin.
Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper. Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure. They’re huge and abstract. And they’re very beautiful.
-filmmaker David Lynch
Data is often a deep ocean. Reporting on aggregate, summary metrics is easier (catching little fish), but you have to dig much deeper for big insights that impact the bottom line (the big fish).
The hardest thing on earth is choosing what matters.
-writer Sue Monk Kidd
I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying.
-writer Oscar Wilde
As analysts, audience comprehension is paramount. We must steer away from technical and analytical jargon whenever possible and make our points clearly and concisely. Let’s impress with the power of our insights rather than the complexity of our process.
I believe that we do not know anything for certain, but everything probably.
-mathematician Christiaan Huygens
It’s impossible to know every last thing about what we’re analyzing, especially in marketing analysis. There are always factors we don’t know or don’t know enough about. Our work is built on educated guesses, but statistical analysis and probability helps increase the confidence in our guesses.
There are two kinds of fools. One says, “This is old, therefore it is good”; the other says, “This is new, therefore it is better.”
-clergyman William Inge
Just because it’s new and shiny, doesn’t mean it’s the silver bullet for your analytics challenge. Also, just because we’ve always done reporting, analysis, or data collection a certain way, doesn’t mean it’s the best way.
No one wants to learn by mistakes, but we cannot learn enough from successes to go beyond the state of the art.
-civil engineer Henry Petroski
This is the essence of optimization. We can learn just as much from our failures as our successes. Properly conducted A/B testing minimizes the risk of trying something new however.
You can’t learn anything when you’re trying to look like the smartest person in the room.
-writer Barbara Kingsolver
You know more about your analysis than your audience, but they still know more than you about something. That something might be the critical piece of context your analysis needs to make it relevant and actionable. Keep your ears open, and turn presentations into conversations when that happens.
On this rare occasion, both quotes on the same weekend spoke to my analytical spirit.
It is better to be vaguely right than exactly wrong.
-logician Carveth Read
I am certain there is too much certainty in the world.
A small dose of skepticism is healthy in analysis. It spurs us to keep pushing in the vaguely right direction when we haven’t fully figured something out, so we can avoid being exactly wrong in the end.
Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
-entrepreneur Steve Jobs
With buzz increasing about predictive analytics, it’s important to remember the critical role of historical descriptive analysis as well. Predicting the future depends on first understanding the past.
Don’t cross a river if it is four feet deep on average.
-statistician/essayist Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Summary stats can point us in a certain direction, but rarely yield actionable insights on their own. Understand underlying trends and contextual metrics that influence a summary stat to know how to optimize and move the needle on KPIs.
If you say that there are elephants flying in the sky, people are not going to believe you. But if you say that there are four hundred and twenty-five elephants in the sky, people will probably believe you.
-writer Gabriel García Márquez
With great power, comes great responsibility.
-Uncle Ben from Spiderman (also probably Voltaire in Oevres de Voltaire, Volume 48)
Use your power as an analyst for good and not evil.
One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man.
-writer/publisher Elbert Hubbard
I’m inspired every day working at Evolytics to learn and grow as an analyst. If you’re interested in partnering with or working for a company that continually pushes the boundaries of analytics, please contact us.