Maturing Analytics: The Job To Be Done

Data

Maturing Analytics: The Job To Be Done

The data and analytics industry is changing. Buried beneath the marketing hype and buzzwords, there’s something real happening, and the data industry is going through a giant shift. I’ve heard it described as both “overhyped and underestimated.” Overhyped in that a sprinkling of AI is not going to perform the magic many vendors hope you’ll believe. Underestimated in the way it will slowly begin to integrate into everything we do, and we’ll only notice the profound change in the rear-view mirror. For now, let’s put aside the AI copilots and automated insights to look at how we, as Data Leaders, stay ahead. To do that, we must first understand where we are falling behind.

Our Solution is Incomplete

We are data people. We want to be data driven and we want others to join us. There’s a problem, however. Most people’s jobs aren’t about data. They are about something else, and the work is done outside of our data and analytics platforms. For them, data is like a multi-vitamin. It’s good for you, they probably should use it at least once a day, but if they forget, there’s no immediate impact. At best, it becomes a habit they do out of routine, but we know from the statistics how many people stick to that.

Vitamins vs. Painkillers

We need more than vitamins — we need a painkiller. If you are injured and you forget to take your medicine, you’ll remember when the pain comes flooding back. Good solutions are like that: They fix your pain. You notice when they are gone. Good solutions might speed up a process, make it less error prone or improve your efficiency, but in all cases, you feel it when they are broken or removed.

When a new tool fixes a pain point for you, the sense of relief is profound. It’s obvious. It’s love at first sight, and it quickly becomes hard to live without. Creating such solutions requires that we understand our users. Not merely on the surface, mind you, but truly empathize with their situations. So, where do we start? Well, as Brian O’Neill said, “If you want humans to use a thing, you should talk to those humans first.” To figure out how to do that, let’s start with a story.

A Story About the Job to be Done

The book “Competing Against Luck” by Clayton M. Christensen changed how I viewed my users and how to develop good solutions. In it, he recounts the story of Bob Moesta, whose team was building condominiums in Detroit.

Bob and his team were tasked with improving sales. They had a well-defined target audience: “Downsizers,” or people who were looking for smaller living arrangements. They put together a plan built after interviewing focus groups that involved a generous marketing campaign and addressed the wide swath of features and amenities the focus groups said they would require.

Sales did not improve. Like so many project plans and RFPs, the long list of requirements captured what sounded good and what was thought to be needed needed, all without understanding the customers. They went back to the drawing board and began to interview people who had purchased from a condominium from them. “I asked people to draw a timeline of how they got here,” Bob said.

In the interviews, one detail kept coming up: the dining room table. One potential customer said, “As soon as I figured out what to do with my dining room table, then I was free to move.”

To their customers, the table represented family life. At that table, they may have had birthdays, holidays, helped with homework or had important life-altering conversations. These “downsizers” were closing a chapter in their life. Packing all that up is hard. Processing memories is hard. More choices in flooring or wall colors didn’t solve that problem.

Solving Pain Points is the Job

Bob wasn’t in the condominium business — he was in the business of moving lives. So, he set out to address his customers’ pain points. They simplified the amenities, giving their customer’s fewer choices to make when they were already making so many. They offered targeted solutions to ease the anxiety of moving:

  • Free moving services
  • Two years’ worth of storage
  • A sorting room on property

As you might guess, sales increased. Through understanding their customers, they began to understand the job to be done. Understanding goes deeper than questionnaires and feature requests. In fact, it was when Bob and his team stayed at the surface level with focus groups that they were failing. They had to dive deep and empathize with the user and their situation.

Empathize With Your Data Consumers

I’m not sure what the job to be done is for your users, but I can confidently say it isn’t to consume dashboards and your job is not to build them. If you want to navigate unfamiliar and evolving landscapes, you need to understand the job to be done. Talk with your users and really understand their needs deeply. Set creating value for them as your north star. If you focus on that, you won’t get lost.

In Part 2, we’ll look at why Dashboards fail at the Job to be Done.

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More About the Author

Ben Bausili

Global Director of Product
Maturing Analytics: Why Dashboards Fail In Part 1, we looked at our Job to be Done and why it wasn’t building Dashboards. The key takeaway is to focus on user value and solve ...
Maturing Analytics: The Job To Be Done The data and analytics industry is changing. Buried beneath the marketing hype and buzzwords, there’s something real happening, and the ...

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