Want To Better Understand Data And Metrics? A Recommended Reading List

"Let's just say I'm not lost when it comes to data . . . but I could be more found . . ." – (eBusiness team member at a top 50 US bank)

Digital teams are surrounded by data and metrics — from KPIs to customer analytics. Yet I often hear from clients who wish they were just a little more comfortable knowing what the data is really saying, or which metrics are most important.

We just published a brand new report on The Mobile Banking Metrics That Matter which outlines how mobile strategists at banks can put the right metrics in place and work with their analytics teams to get data outputs that guide them toward smart business decisions.

Writing this report got me thinking about which books, blogs, and articles I’ve found most useful when it comes to really getting data and metrics. Here are five I think might help you too:

  1. The Tiger That Isn’t. Probably my personal favorite book about stats and measurement. Written for a mainstream audience, the book works as a guide to thinking through what a given stat or data point really means — and when to trust or doubt such data. It’s also a great read, full of interesting nuggets and statistical oddities (like how the vast majority of people have an above-average number of legs). The book’s thesis is that people who consume data should be skeptical but not cynical about statistics. From there, it helps the reader more easily contemplate and act on the data and metrics they encounter.    
  2. Web Analytics For Dummies. Yes, the “for dummies” brand can be hit or miss. But this particular book gives you a nice, clean foundation for digital analytics. It’s not inspirational or mind-blowing, but it is straightforward and well organized. This makes it a great top-of-your-office-bookshelf resource for digital business team members.  
  3. Keep Up with Your Quants (an article in the Harvard Business Review magazine). The latest issue of HBR includes a feature on how business teams can better work with their analytics counterparts. The article begins with the story of a company that lost billions of dollars because the person making business decisions wasn’t connected to a report that predicted the danger well in advance — a report authored by the company’s internal data team. Other highlights include examples from Cigna and Intel, plus recommendations on how to build relationships between business teams and their analytics peers.     
  4. Information Is Beautiful. With a great Facebook page (and a standalone website), the work of “independent data journalist and information designer” David McCandless is less a guide to data and metrics and more an inspirational look at data visualization. But it’s a great resource for digital business leaders looking to work with their analytics partners to improve how they communicate metrics and data. No, your dashboards and internal deliverables won’t look like works of art, but how data is presented will be critical to the future of metrics and analytics.    
  5. Forrester’s own Customer Insights Blog. Forrester has an entire team dedicated to serving customer insights professionals, and the research this team produces is often excellent information for digital business teams to have. Srividya Sridharan — an analyst covering customer analytics — writes especially valuable posts that I highly recommend.   

What resources have you used to get a better grasp of data and metrics? Let us know in the comments section below!

 

[data and metrics can help you see what you you're looking for]