Humanising data – how to get started


The big data hype has seen companies amass a herculean amount of information, in a race to harness the power of consumer and business insights. So data driven is business today, that by 2025, we’ll be generating approximately 180 zettabytes of data  each year. That’s roughly enough data to fill 75 million iPads.

So, what are we doing with all that data? And how can it help both businesses and consumers?

Whilst some companies do a great job of using data to drive business, others are stonewalled as the information remains in the hands of data scientists. It may not be easily accessible or digestible by those making key business decisions. Even when shared, it’s often a set of data points, without context or a back story.

What’s missing is the human element. Humanising data means extracting real stories from the mass of information and placing those stories in the hands of the those making key business decisions.  

To humanise data is to flip it on its head – to remember that every piece of data has a human behind it.

Here are some tips for getting started:

  • Change the focus: Start talking about people rather than data. Somewhere along the line, we’ve lost the humans in the big data picture; the ability to look at each piece of data as innately human. People’s actions, their thoughts, their behaviour and needs are unique. It’s only by consistently gathering fine detail that we will be able to engage in a more meaningful and ‘human’ way.
  • Make data more accessible: Data scientists often work in siloes, in the technical side of analytics. Delivering real human stories to employees, based on the goldmine of data that has been gathered, is not their forte. Enter the data artisan – part analyst, part storyteller. Data artisans act as a conduit, ‘translating’ relevant insights into real stories about your customers and personalising them with business context. If there’s nobody who can fill this gap internally, look to engage a data artisan.
  • Focus on quality over quantity: Big data has traditionally leaned towards quantity rather than quality - but many businesses now find themselves with a case of data fatigue. Get honest by looking at the quality of your data. Do large chunks of data provide a qualitative human-centric focus? For many decision makers, the story that data tells needs detailed insights that relate to each business unit and its function.
  • Acknowledge that data doesn’t think: Acknowledge that whilst the potential to collect huge volumes of data is infinite, data doesn’t think – humans do by engaging experts in the social sciences. Adding cognitive insights, human psychology and sociology to the data will differentiate your business and make it more human. You’ll also have a more complete picture of each customer, their nuances and thought processes.
  • Humanising data is an opportunity: Approach data humanisation as an opportunity rather than a challenge. Think about it as a way to differentiate yourself from your competitors. If data is presented to you as a story, you’ll have a better understanding of your clients’ behaviour and their preferences. That translates to more efficient communication and a positive shift in customer perception.

Big data equals people

Don’t forget it’s a two-way street. Communicating the ways data benefits the individuals providing it is an integral part of a more humanised approach. For example, automated data from wearables may provide the consumer with better fitness goals. Equally, online shopping becomes more personalised.  Positive data stories help to create a more human perception of your business and foster better relationships.

How can you humanise data in your business?

We can help. Talk to an Equifax Data-driven Marketing Expert to find out how.