About needs, drivers of needs and context – databases are simply not enough!

Knowing your market, knowing your customers and knowing the trends for everyone who wants to sell, change and/or influence is essential. That’s what we have learned, heard in universities and what is the promising way to success. Without doubt. Whether these are traditional, innovative or social businesses.
But how do you do that?
Do you have databases and other modern technology on board that collects your data? Often the technology, the tool is in the centre of discussions, agencies are asked to collect data and to bring it into the tools. Fine. Should we take tool A or B? Which functionalities should be added to the tool? How to cluster information and how to make it findable…

But is this enough? Is this database really at the core of understanding the needs or is it just a part of the things you need to understand?
Let’s take an example. We can find statistical data about everything, which % of people do this and that, how many out of a total number lack of x,y,z, the most critical geographical areas, how trends develop. Facts collection based on predefined questions and answers that are going into predefined boxes from where we can organize diagrams, filter information and present data based insights. Not more, not less.

But what about understanding the needs and still more important what are the drivers of these needs? If a certain % of people living in a certain area cannot read well, then they might have a need for education in writing and reading skills. The quick solution: we need to educate by offering extra writing courses…. But what if this target group is not prioritizing writing and reading skills because they have a life style that puts other priorities in the foreground? If they do not really understand which opportunities they miss – just because they never experienced a life based on good writing and reading skills? What if there are social contextual factors that rate these skills lower than we do from our business view and a ‘different’ world? Would the business solution we have in mind – just
because we see the numbers – still be the right one?

We can collect thousand of data, but for a real good understanding of a marketplace and the people living there we have to go beyond pure data collection in a fancy tool.
The main tasks are not limited to data collection, but to use them for going more into depth and to start to find the real needs, drivers of these needs and the contextual connection of behaviors.

It seems that the big data wave is just the starting point and not the solution.
What do you think?

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