Embrace simplicity in the fight against data deluge

Simplicity can be a complex thing to achieve


~ John Davis, Group Client Director, Infotools

John’s observations have never rung truer. We are quite literally drowning in data. We have more consumer touchpoints tracked than ever: interactions with advertising and marketing outreach, shopping behaviors online and in-store, online reviews, social media chatter, and even offline conversations. Couple this with additional layers of business metrics such as distributions, sell-out, and sell-in volumes and even more traditional market research data and you have a complex web of information to make sense of before you can take action. 

In the face of all this data, achieving simplicity while communicating market research presentations and reports can be a considerable challenge. The tendency of most is to dump as much as possible on the audience. How many 100+ slides have you sat through in research presentations? How many management dashboards have you seen, overladen with metrics? Too many! 

What helps?
Here are five tips:

  1. Speak up: Have the courage to demand simplicity! Actively explore new paths to simplified reporting and insights that make a focused impact on business outcomes. 
  2. Take note: Recognize that simplicity does not mean simplistic. Although these words share the same root, simplicity means uncomplicated - in a good way - whereas simplistic is pejorative, indicating something is overly and misleadingly “dumbed down.” Follow the first path, and don’t complicate your reports unnecessarily. 
  3. Take time: Good things take time. You need to plan to allow this. It is critically important to take the time to map out a plan and understand objectives at the start of a project. This will help with simplifying your deliverables and make the project more efficient. 
  4. Hyperfocus: Which goals did you identify when you took the time to plan? When you share your reporting, focus solely on the key outtakes that will support those goals and decision-making surrounding them. Be single-minded in your messages and the metrics. Avoid the temptation to add just 'one extra thing.'
  5. Format your presentation: The deck of slides is not the presentation cornerstone (Okay, make it available for background reading). Embrace different presentation formats or interactive reporting platforms that help cut through the clutter. Find a solution that uses fewer words and more visualizations to bring insights to life.

The bottom line is that simplicity can be the tough road, but it is the only way for us to get the most from the stories in the data. This is the one time you must settle for less. With the right forward-thinking leaders and technology at our fingertips, we can go beyond just putting all this data together and dumping it on our stakeholders. When we approach market research analysis and reporting with a simplicity mindset, we can start to find those relationships and patterns that can make a real impact on business decisions and, ultimately, success.

So for the next research presentation or report, what will you change?


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