You want to know the most frequent question we receive from prospective clients? It’s something to the tune of “why the heck would you mix analytics and design?” Our inquisitive friends usually believe that mixing these two disciplines is like petting a cat backwards.

But we Sprocketeers are an odd bunch. We’ve purposefully decided to mix economics, data science, and design together. And on top of it, we expect awesomeness to come out of that strange brew. And since we realize this idea is sometimes seen as odd, we thought we’d describe the method to our madness.

First, here’s the WHY behind our mashup.

When we look at the world, we see plenty of smart “analytical types” that approach business problems by expecting solutions to fall out of the data they uncover. Essentially, the belief is that if you analyze a problem enough, the problem will just relent. Fire up the spreadsheets and regression models, and poof!, smart business growth solutions appear. But, in our experience, it doesn’t work that way.

We also see plenty of creative “idea types” that are wonderful at conceiving crafty ideas that customers would want. Frankly, ideas that most organizations have a hard time coming up with themselves because it’s so tough to see the forest through the trees. But, often times, these crazy creative ideas find themselves detached from the operating and financial realities of business. So that approach alone doesn’t work well, either.

That brings us to the summary of our WHY: we believe in mixing analytics with imagination to build awesome customer experiences that drive business value. It’s the intersection of these POVs and knowledge domains that makes the magic happen.

“The greatest scientists are always artists as well.”

– Albert Einstein

Second, here’s how the sausage gets made.

At Sprocket, we use a design methodology that roughly follows the following “three I’s”:

  1. Inspiration. We begin by discovering the context of the business from a wide variety of angles. What is the current state of the business economically, who are your customers/non-customers, what are your products/services and how are they being delivered today, what is the competition doing, how would you describe your current corporate culture? These questions are answered via research as well as some good ol’ analytics (descriptive, predictive, you name it, we do it). Observations from these areas (and more) turn into themes that shape our thinking and help us define what our clients’ core problems/opportunities are.
  2. Ideation. With a clear problem/opportunity space defined, we then turn the corner into the world of “how might we”. This simple question starter allows us to take insights and ask them as questions that fuel creativity. It’s at this stage that we are co-creating ideas with our clients. This is the land of post-it-note workshops, quick prototypes, predictive models, and financial pro-formas. Ultimately, the possibility of many directions turns into a unified direction. In short, “could” turns into “should” at the end of this phase.
  3. Implementation. All of our learning and testing leads us to the implementation phase where we define the operating plan and begin to bring the new solution(s) to life in the marketplace. At Sprocket, we’re thinkers as well as doers and our hands are callused from “picking up a shovel”. We enjoy helping our clients stand up and operate the new business reality. Pragmatically, this often looks like helping clients select technology partners, building data models and integrating them with IT departments, writing creative briefs and defining communication strategies, architecting new organization structures, and much more.

To summarize, the kind of data+design sausage that we create at the Sprocket sausage factory (sorry for the crude metaphor) MUST check the box with three key dimensions: it’s got to be something that customers want, it has to be something the business can execute, and it needs to make the cash register ring.

So, if you’re looking to refine or retool your customer experience, think about making your own data+design mashup. And if you want some help, we’ve got your back over here at Sprocket CX.

Photo credit: “Design is where art and science break even” by Robin Mathew