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Business Intelligence


How to Interpret Data: The Art and Science of Insights

Business Intelligence / 11.3.20 / By Diana Osgood

One of the most difficult tasks a marketer faces in growing a brand is knowing how to make an impact with the ever-flowing stream of data. While access to data is not lacking today, knowing how to interpret data takes creativity.

Some may believe that getting to the insight is all about science. We believe the key to uncovering the “Now what?” in actionable and impactful ways actually lies in the intersection of art and science. To illustrate this, let’s follow the notion of building blocks as shown by the DIKW pyramid.


Website traffic, conversion rates, new leads. All are examples of data marketers capture to assess whether a brand is achieving its over-arching goals of attracting and/or retaining customers. Yet at this juncture alone, it’s too early to tell or draw any conclusions. Why? Because all we have is a lot of individual elements which, without context, are meaningless.

Context is enabled by identifying relationships between the unstructured data and other relevant variables (e.g., age of user, time of day of use, customer tenure, etc.). This step of connecting the parts and pieces provides the information needed to understand what is happening.

The third building block is knowledge. By layering in our experience, we analyze the patterns of behavior identified combined with category trends and cultural/environmental market conditions to uncover how a condition could occur.

Now here’s where the art part of uncovering insights comes in…

In the fourth and final step: wisdom. It answers the "Why?" question at the heart of a brand’s reason for being. As we reflect on the whole of the parts, we achieve an understanding of what’s true. By applying wisdom, we convert the data that was once an unorganized mess into meaningful insights with the potential to change the course of the next marketing campaign.

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Diana Osgood

Diana Osgood is DS+CO’s vice president of strategy and customer insights, helping our clients understand their audiences and the right positioning to drive action.