A Comprehensive Guide to Overcoming the Most Common Data Integration Challenges

Insight development is based on gathering information, then data integration and analysis. However, organisations often find this challenging due to multiple sources, formats and time scales. Do you?

Many companies struggle to benefit from all their data and information because they don’t know how to turn it into insight, or their insights remain interesting but not actionable. There are many reasons for this.

From data quality issues to technological limitations and resistance to change, organizations must navigate a complex landscape to unlock the full potential of their data.

This comprehensive guide delves into the ten most common challenges in insight development, offering detailed analysis and strategies to overcome each obstacle, ensuring your organization can harness data for strategic advantage.


What an Actionable Insight Really is

I get so frustrated when people refer to numbers, data, or the findings from research projects as insights. None of these are!

In addition, developing actionable insights from a single survey is rare.

The reason is that insight development, getting to that “aha” moment that everyone immediately understands and wonders why no one thought of before, needs a 360 perspective of the challenge or opportunity under investigation and uses information from multiple sources.

There are many definitions of insight, but the one that I use, and that resonates with my clients, is a statement that impacts the attitudes or behaviours of current or potential customers/shoppers of a brand or category based on a human truth that results in an emotional response.

At first glance, this may seem like quite a mouthful, so to simplify retention, I refer to it as ABCDE:

A = Attitudes and Actions

B = Brand or Category

C = Customer, consumer, client or shopper

D = Deep human truth

E = Emotional response

To fast-track your understanding, here are some great examples of the insights behind some of the best-known brands:

  • Heineken Jillz: I want to drink alcohol on a night out, but I don’t like beer and wine is too variable in quality.
  • Kraft Philadelphia: Food is delicious, but I don’t want to eat too much fat (butter versus cream cheese).
  • DTC Diamonds: I want to stand out (shine), but as a modern woman, I also want to be seen as gentle and feminine.
  • Unilever Dove: I want to be admired for my beauty on the inside, not for what I look like on the outside.
  • AXE (Lynx in UK): I (young men) want to attract as many beautiful and sexy women as possible.
  • Haribo Starmix: There’s a child inside every adult.
  • Dulux sample paint pots: I love to decorate my home, but I don’t want to look stupid by choosing the wrong colour.

You’ll notice that most are written in the first person as if the target audience is speaking. This makes it much easier to understand and resonate with the reader without much effort since we can immediately put ourselves in the other person’s shoes.

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Got Data? It’s Never Big Enough For Business’s New Demands

Did the title that you’ve got data make you curious? Great! 

Of course, in today’s data-rich environment I’m not really suggesting that you ignore it, rather the opposite! But in working with clients around the world and in numerous industries, I’ve found that many are lost by all the information that is available to them.

In fact it seems to drown out their reasoning of what to do and they remain frozen in indecision. Is this your case? If so, then just follow the steps I detail below and you will soon be doubling, quadrupling, if not 10x the ROI of your data!


The Current Situation with Data

Data is everywhere and most organisations are drowning in it! Technology is at the heart of this data explosion and is being blamed for disrupting businesses, but most have simply not adapted to this new information-rich world.

I admit, a lot has changed in recent years. Consumers are learning how to adapt their behaviours and now trade their personal information for extra benefits. In response companies are changing their business models as their value shifts from products to services, or in some cases, to the sale of the information they gather.

Some organisations are reinventing themselves to take advantage of these changes. Others are ignoring them – at their peril, since they risk becoming the next Kodak, Borders or Blockbusters. If you’re interested in reading more about the US Retail Apocalypse and the 23 big retailers closing stores then I highly recommend this post on Fox Business.

So what should you do, whether you are in manufacturing or retail? Well, I believe that you should start by renovating your business model to take advantage of the countless new opportunities that the wealth of data offers you. And in my opinion, you had better do it sooner rather than later, because your competition almost certainly will!


The Opportunity

Yes you have data and information, but if you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that it’s not enough. You have to turn these into knowledge and understanding, and then into actionable insights. And this can only be done by asking the right questions of your data and information.

If you are struggling to take needed action despite a wealth of information, then this is certainly where you should start making changes – fast!

A 2015 Capgemini and EMC study called “Big & Fast Data: The rise of Insight-Driven Business” showed that:

  • 56% of the 1,000 senior decision makers surveyed claim that their investment in big data over the next three years will exceed past investment in information management.
  • 65% admit they risk becoming irrelevant and uncompetitive if they do not leverage data. This is especially true given that non-traditional providers, like startups thriving on big data processing, are moving into their industries.
  • Although companies realise they desperately need to dig into data analytics to maintain their business position, 45% surveyed think their current internal IT development cycles are not
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