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Navigating Data Overload: FAQs

Jessica Gershman

Data and Analytics Director, Forum One

Do you know where your data is across your organization? For many organizations, a common challenge is data living in separate silos, meaning that navigating and finding data can become overwhelming. Additionally, many of the tools and channels that house data do not speak to one another, making it increasingly difficult to navigate data overload. 

In our recent data webinar, we discussed the steps to help you navigate your data overload. The steps include:

  1. Take inventory
  2. Draft questions
  3. Map your stack
  4. Iterative analysis

In our recent webinar, 51% of attendees noted that their biggest data challenge is manual processes. Other common challenges included not knowing how to compare or connect data sources and too many tools to manage. We break down the steps to simplify the processes related to these common challenges in our webinar. 

Here we answer some of the common questions we hear from our data and analytics clients. 

Q: I’m curious to hear about your comparison of a data warehouse that is actually storing all organizational data versus a tool that is using live connections to connect the various data sources and report on the data. Could you tell me more?

A: It seems to be quick and easy just to connect Google Analytics to a dashboard, which depending on the situation, it can be. That is why we recommend taking inventory and understanding the questions you’re looking to answer. If you want to understand the investment required to publish a research report, this will require mapping a lot of different sources together. You would want to get it into a warehouse first that gives you more room to structure and organize what you’re dealing with for multiple questions before we try to visualize it.

Q: Can you give any tips to make sure we are comparing apples to apples when taking data from different sources? Hubspot versus Google Analytics, as well as pros and cons to Google Data Studio.

A: If you’re paying for a tool, poke at their methodology. Ask what do they mean by engagement rate? Look at their developer documentation, especially with Google Analytics. Google Data Studio is making a lot of improvements every month. Make sure you’re on their email newsletter. 

Q: I spend a lot of time putting together and analyzing data on what is and isn’t working well, but I’m having a hard time getting them to act on the information I’m giving them. How can I make this work better for my needs?

A: This is where alignment and buy-in, particularly around the inventory and the gathering questions phase really helps. If you can bring people along with you that can help with driving action. Repetition from personal experience also helps. Sometimes we have to present things multiple times before action is taken. Present your data in different formats, if a dashboard isn’t working, try bullet points or even hallway conversations versus an email. 

Q: How do you recommend handling the fact that different tools collect data differently and give different metrics? For example, Facebook Ads Manager reports different conversion rates than Google Analytics.

A: That usually goes into data modeling and planning. If you’re trying to understand click-through rates, you might need to do additional transformations. Based on the questions you are trying to answer, you can determine what transformation you’re going to have to do on the Ads Manager data versus the Google Analytics data. By determining the question, you can determine which side of the coin needs more work. This is why the ETL process is so important; if you add Ad Manager data without considering what you want to answer and map it straight to Google Analytics data, you’re getting a really corrupted picture of what is going on. It is vital to understand the underlying raw information, normalizing it, and mapping data sources to each other.

Q: With everything going on right now, we’re worried about our data security. Are there ways to make sure our data is safe using the tools you’ve mentioned today?

A: Make sure you talk to representatives from any vendors, platforms, or consultants about getting your permissions locked down. A lot of tools have different layers of authentication to set up and they aren’t always intuitive.

Q: What are some of the tools you recommend to get the best value?

A: Data Studio has been introducing more functionally. Don’t rule out Google on your data stack resources. Check out  Snowflake for data warehousing. We like to be tool agnostics for our clients to make sure we are recommending the best fit for your solution so we have tried a lot of different things. Panoply is another data management tool we have been trying out that has a lot of functionality built-in from an ETL and data management perspective. 

Written By

Jessica Gershman

Data and Analytics Director, Forum One

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