Leadership hack 025 – quantative data tells you what, qualitative tells you why

We now live in an age where the problem is we have too much information rather than too little.  Modern digital products have very little limits in what data you can collect.  Here are a few examples:

  • Where a user’s cursor is and how quickly it moves around the screen
  • How quickly a user enters their data, how many mistakes they make and where they make them
  • With limited personal data (dob and address) you can infer likely behaviours, wealth, class, education level
  • Frequency and depth of use of your product
  • From an IP address, you can find their location or the company they work for
  • From the device/OS you can determine technical competence, income level, education level

Great product team


However, while this data is incredibly useful when use to refine and improve your products, the data only tells you where to look and what has happened, it will not explain why.

To move beyond the what and understand why you need to sit with customers and see how they are using your product.

The difference between qualitative and quantitative



Structured data (however this is changing with advanced analytics) Unstructured data
 Result is numerical  Result is non-numerical
Results generated by instruments or machines (including software) Results generated by humans

For example, in the UK there are a number of terms for a person’s surname, these include surname, last name and family name.  In building one product we found that we had a high number of failures when trying to establish someone’s identity because people put the wrong name in the box marked surname.   It was only through a lot of user testing, we found that this term confused a lot of people.  We switched to the last name, and this solved the problem.

Using quantitative and qualitative data you can create a monitoring and alert plan, which will then allow you to make decisions.  For example:

Example Monitoring Alert Why this is important Decision to take
Tactical Uptime of customer onboarding application No new successful onboarding in last five minutes (between 1000 and 2200) ·    Impact to business of lost customers and revenue

·    Reputational damage undermines trust in brand

·    Regulatory implications should this continue beyond 24 hrs

P2 alert sent to distribution list, new channel spun up on Slac with logs.  On-call Dev to investigate and inform incident management team
Operational New customer acquisition Number of new active customers drops 10% ·       Regulatory implications should this continue beyond 24 hrs  
Strategic Change in digital channel mix (desktop, mobile, voice, VR/AR) Voice or AR/VR amount to more than 10% of financial interactions in the UK market ·    We do not have voice or AR/VR offering

·    We may not be missing a key market segment

·    We could miss out on industry inflection point


Create a new channel pilot.  Investigate rate of change.

Investigate change in company strategy, structure, processes, tools and people