You, not software, hold the solution

Technology is a marvelous thing. But it falls short of the human brain in ingesting data and spitting out actionable insights. That’s because separating actionable and insightful findings from non-actionable/insightful, non-actionable/non-insightful and actionable/non-insightful actions would require two types of knowledge, objective and subjective.

Objective knowledge concerns difficulties encountered by following different actions, and subjective knowledge involves knowing what’s old and what is genuinely insightful. Eventually, AI agents may be able to learn objective knowledge by reading published materials. They may even build up subjective knowledge over time by storing up things they learn. But so far, that’s just science fiction.

What AI can deliver today is the ability to sift through the data more efficiently. It can make sense of people’s comments by using algorithms that can turn the comments into themes that can be analyzed just like numbers.  And data visualizations make sense of structured data by helping to understand differences, uncover correlations and detect trends.

First know this: there are 3 types of actionable insights

Insight > Action

Critical thinking turns insightful findings into actions. Consider: you could solve the lack of parking downtown not by providing more parking spaces, but by working with the city council to improve public transport options.

Insight > No Action Required

Not everything is worth measuring, but even when you measure, data analysis can lead to insights that aren’t necessary actionable. For example, you may think that class size in your school’s file is an issue, but if students or parents don’t mention it, no action to fix it is needed.

Insight > Rethink strategy

Let’s assume your customers are saying that your competitor makes better quality shoes.  That’s a key insight that you can take action on: you can survey them to ask what they base their claim on – whether it’s better quality or just the perception of it because they’re paying more, for example. You can change your product to be more pleasing, either through quality or drawing attention to the price advantage.

All three insights boast a common denominator: they need human input – your input — to show them at their best.