3 decision making biases to avoid

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There’s a lot of noise around data but are analysts being heard?

Everyone’s talking about data, across sectors people are striving to filter out useful insights from the huge amounts of information available. However, often the people extracting the numbers and the people putting them to use sit in different departments. Why is it that data analysts are so often placed within the IT department instead of at the heart of the marketing department where their expertise would be most useful? Yes, there is a certain amount of software and programming skills required by data analysts that are synonymous with the skillset of IT related roles, but data analysts know your organisation’s data inside out so their knowledge should be exploited. 

As humans we tend not to make decisions without considering previous experiences, and a business shouldn’t be any different. An organisation’s marketing capability can be compared to the human decision making process. The many megabytes, gigabytes or terabytes of data you hold represents the memory capacity. Your IT infrastructure enables you to capture, encode and store information to memory, capturing data to create a foundation for effective decision making. The IT department also enables reflex responses such as welcome packs and triggered emails that are automatically generated without the delay of passing through the brain, where the data analysts and marketers sit. Data analysts represent the many neurons within the brain, providing synaptic connections within the memory to deliver rapid and complex calculations. The marketers connect the dots between these facts and the company’s business objectives thus implementing decisions that make best use of the insight generated by the analysts.

When talking about successful decision making, data analysts and marketers need to work in tandem, with equal emphasis on both parties. Only by listening to your analysts can you avoid the inherent biases often associated with bad decision making...

  1. Selective search for evidence: I think everyone has been susceptible to confirmation bias. With the masses of data available it has become easier to select information that supports a conclusion that has already been made (subconsciously or otherwise)! Listen to your data analysts to eliminate this bias, it may not be what you want to hear but significant statistics can help you avoid this trap.
  2. Cognitive inertia: This type of bias refers to the human unwillingness to change existing decision making processes when faced with new or evolving markets. Listen to your data analysts, they are closest to the data and their job is to look for significant changes in behaviour that could otherwise be missed. With analysts by your side your organisation can evolve alongside the market. Don’t get left behind and become disjointed from potential early warning signs. Embrace change and use pattern spotting to stay ahead of the game.
  3. Attribution asymmetry: This refers to the human tendency to attribute success to their internal resources and failure to external factors. Part of successful decision making is looking at historic evidence and learning from mistakes. In the most professional way possible, organisations can’t afford to take prisoners. Listen to your data analysts to identify the facts behind failure. Sometimes businesses need to look backwards before moving forwards and with the correct testing in place, marketers can minimise the risk of error, making informed decisions to eliminate bias that could lead to incorrect conclusions.

Don’t ignore your data analysts, bring them to the forefront of your marketing department to harvest the insight that is readily available and reap the results. At Marketing Metrix we understand the dynamics between data and marketing. We assist organisations who want to utilise and maximise their customer’s information by releasing their data potential to build effective decision making processes. For more information on how your business can eradicate the gap between data and marketing please get in touch.