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Analytics and Intuition: Why Your Expertise Matters

By Tim Young

When making decisions as a business leader, do you ever take time to think from your customers’ point of view? Aren’t you also a customer? Don’t you have similar expectations as your customers? When you’re a customer, how do you like to be treated?

With the growing potential for analytics and Big Data, sometimes we can get caught up in the numbers, and forget to apply our experiences and our intuition to the equation. We can be lead to believe that decisions – like how to price a product, where to add a new retail location and whether to introduce a new product – can only be found though number crunching. We might assume that quantitative analytics can make expert judgment – your judgment – obsolete.

The danger of these assumptions is that they lose sight of that fact that the “end consumer” is a real living breathing person. And people do not always make rationale choices. Emotion plays a big part in the brands that we are loyal to, the decisions that we make and why we make those decisions.

I’m a big believer in using reliable data and fostering a culture that embraces analytics. Making decisions without analytics and data puts you at a decided disadvantage. Surveys of one are inaccurate and not representative of the overall population.

This doesn’t mean I think intuition and experience don’t matter. Intuition and experience can unlock the full potential of quantitative analysis. By using business expertise you can ensure that you’re asking the right questions of the data and appropriately applying the insights gleaned from the data. Expertise can also be gained through observation – getting your hands dirty, and spending time in the field where your customers are.

The trick is to get the balance right, and if you do that, the benefits can be significant. A recent Accenture survey of 600 businesses in the US and UK found that when data and intuition are used together, businesses reported a more than 75 percent return on their analytics investment over a two-year period.

With the right combination of analytics and intuition, your business can make better decisions. Listen to that little voice inside your head – your intuition has value.

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