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From Bits and Bytes to Insights


Jim Sterne, Digital Analytics Association

Jim Sterne walked us through the process of evolving data into business insights and suggested some best practices for the art of data analysis.

The path from bits and bytes to business insights:

The building blocks of information:

  • Bit: A location (either a 1 or 0)
  • Byte: Eight bits (the letter b)
  • Datum: A single piece of information (big)
  • Data: More than one datum (big bird)
  • Information: What you learn about about one thing (big bird, yellow, teaches children, popular fellow)

This information informs:

  • Knowledge: The integration of information  (Big Bird was a favorite 1970’s Sesame Street character)
  • Wisdom: The continuous accumulation of knowledge (parents watch Sesame Street with their kids and still feel an attachment to Big Bird)
  • Insight: The Aha moment! (We better not fire Big Bird!)

The process of interpreting our data to create business insights is the art of analysis.

The art of analysis

“It’s not having the best answers. It’s asking the best questions.”

A data analyst has to understand the whole picture, from assembling the raw material to solving the problem.

  • Appreciate the anomalies (ask questions to understand)
  • Savor segmentation (everybody is different, test for the similarities)
  • Don’t be fooled (correlation isn’t causation)
  • Invest in data governance (organization breeds quality data)
  • Listen to your language (“the data suggests…”, “it seems more likely…”)
  • Dumb question lunch (a forum to anonymously ask questions)
  • Partner up (you are not the expert in every field)


The analyst must communicate the results. Keeping in mind, clients want to hear a story that will help them achieve their goal – they do not want the sausage making details.

About the author
Barret Murdock

~ Barret Murdock ~

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