What Separates Basic Analysis from Great Analysis

Basic analysis, what most people think of when they imagine data analytics, is as straightforward as it sounds and generally a scientific process. As long as we have a data collection process in place, it’s relatively easy to look for how many people purchased a given plate from a restaurant menu during any given week or how many times a store sold a given product off its shelves during any given month.

But with deeper analysis, we can find the answers to much more complex questions and extract even more value from the data we have at our disposal. The first step towards this next level of analysis begins with understanding the greater context of our data. We need to understand how data fits together to provide solutions.

The Art of Analysis

The Social Network

In the opening scene of The Social Network, a young Mark Zuckerberg discusses his ill-fated desire to join one of Harvard’s prestigious final clubs and mentions that his best friend, Eduardo Saverin, couldn’t impress the clubs even though he had made hundreds of thousands of dollars betting on oil futures because of his meteorology hobby. “If you can read the weather, you can predict the price of heating oil,” he says to his confused girlfriend.

While that conversation didn’t play out so well for Zuckerberg, he did succinctly summarize how data analysis can be an artform. The best analysts have an ability to find how data fits together to find solutions that are immediately evident. By understanding how the world around them works, analysts can begin to paint a picture around the central issue they’re trying to solve, thus allowing them to create close approximations even if it’s impossible to find exact solutions.

Becoming an Artful Analyst

Ultimately, analysts are only as capable as the data at their disposal. In the past, we’ve spoken about the different kinds of data out there and the different sources available to aspiring analysts. By utilizing different data inputs and understanding how they can help you paint a picture, you can begin developing artful solutions for any business need.

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