As web analysts, we often present data to people (be they Hippos, sales teams, or whomever) who have a significant amount of emotional investment in the results our analysis is trying to explain. Perhaps their commission relies on lead generation, or they are performance based and the bottom line is everything to them.
That emotion, however, can really skew the way the data is read. If we look outside of the meeting room, I can find an example of this that really hits home for me. And that’s simply that I carry the burden of being a lifelong Pittsburgh Pirates fan. We’re mired in our 18th consecutive losing season, and our Front Office is relatively new. They’ve only been drafting and trading for a few years of that 18, and they weren’t given a heck of a lot to work with when they took over.
It’s fair to say that any fan base has an emotional investment in a team. That’s what makes them fans. So, the fans are stuck dealing with constant losing, and more recently, the trading of some VERY popular players in order to stock up the farm system. To some, that’s even worse than the losing.
At the same time, they seem to feel that the team would be “far better off” if we had kept those players. But does the math back up those claims? Let’s find out.
Here’s our current line up (most nights), and their statistics (click for a bigger view):
Yeah. That’s a losing ball club currently. I know. But what about if we had the guys we traded?
Wait a minute…. Could it be that our current team:
- Has 7 more home runs?
- A 50 point edge in OPS?
- A 30 point edge in Slugging?
- 30 more stolen bases?
- A 15 point higher batting average?
But… a lot of emotional fans want those guys back. And you could make a strong analytical argument that it would be a BAD idea. Because we haven’t even factored in the improved farm system we’ve built in the meantime as a result of some of those deals.
So How Does This Help Me At Work?
Simple. As an analyst, you are armed to the teeth with numbers. You can use them to point out that folks might be looking at things incorrectly based solely on emotion.
A sales reps sales are down? Show them that there really hasn’t been a change in the web leads in his territory.
Revenue is slipping? Traffic patterns might be the same anyways. What else could be the problem.
Brand recognition is down? Use analytics tools to show why that might be.
You have more and better data than almost anyone in the organization to determine the cause of all sorts of symptoms in the business world. Use it to diffuse emotionally charged direction taking, and make smarter, safer business decisions based on it.
Oh… and by the way. As for my Buccos?
Just wait til next year…..