Solving Data Paralysis

published on 14 July 2021

Data can be paralyzing. It can be confusing. It can even make you have to take a walk around the block just to clear your head. Whether it is grabbing simple sales numbers or diving into deep problems surrounding your business, you can be sure to have a moment where you are feeling "overwhelmed" by your data. What is the root cause? There can be many reasons to this question. Ultimately, it comes down to understanding if your data is ready to be analyzed. Are the right assumptions being made? Do you have all your data in one area to analyze? Do you have the right chart / graph to visualize the missing link? After many years of experiencing this phenomenon, we can tell you that this is a NORMAL feeling. But how do you navigate these waters? Here are the simple steps to help you become a data captain and help you keep  calm when the storm seems rough:

Write down your goal in mind

The first order of business when you feel as though you have gone through multiple haystacks with no needle in sight is to simply write down your goal. We don't necessarily mean to write it down on a physical piece of paper (if you're into that - then by all means!), but what we do want is to help center the goal in mind from the start. Are you trying to understand why sales dropped this month vs last? Write it down. Once you have a goal in mind - you can start thinking through the data needed to help solve that goal. In the example question, one philosophy can be to see if your average sale price across all transactions is higher or lower than the prior month. Keep it simple in this case - as a simple yes or no answer can help you move onto more potential reasons. If your answer is yes - then there's one potential reason why, and you can dive deeper from there. If you answer no - then you can at least say that your first assumption didn't pan out and move on to another hypothesis.

Find trends in aggregate data first - then dive deeper

This one may be simple to read but often times the mind tries to go straight into details, details, details. Start with monthly aggregated data first (or even a step above that if it makes sense). If your monthly trends begin to show differences, then dive into specific months and weeks to help confirm your thought process. If you start at a micro-level and say "Let me dive into these 10 orders and see what trends I can find", you could do 1 of 2 things:                     

              A) Miss out on the larger trends of the business

              B) Assume that a small sample size is correlating to the goal in mind

To avoid this type of problem, always start at a high-level and then slowly make your way down each level of granularity. until you land that plane

Don't be afraid to take a break

Surely this is a no-brainer - but often times the brain doesn't want to stop trying to solve the problem at hand. "Well if I just pivot the data like so - i'm sure to find my answer" are the words said over 2+ hours ago before you end down a rabbit hole. There is no greater feeling then when you finally find that missing link - but there is also no worse feeling when you feel like you are seeing numbers on and off the screen. There are many different apps that are available to help you focus and work within a specified time. Start with a 20-minute timer to work and then a 5-minute timer to take a break (called the Pomodoro technique, not the same as pomodoro sauce, but if you are hungry, then go have a bite). Keep the same repetition until finally you have solved the goal in mind.

How does Rubx help solve data paralysis? Well this article is one for starters. That's not all. We offer many different ways to view trends, export aggregate data, and build custom reports to help solve your goals in mind. Rubx is a no-code data and analytics platform built for those looking to answer more questions from their data. We specialize in easy-to-read and actionable repots for your e-commerce business. Rubx was built with simplicity in mind - with the ability to drive powerful insights all without needing to be data saavy. You can get started today with a 30-day free trial:

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