On Wednesday the 5th February I attended the third Adaptlab in the latest IPA Adaptathon focussing on diversification. It was hosted by Google at their offices and there were about forty of us in the room.
The session started with our host Kirk Vallis asking us all to give ourselves an "energy score" and then be prepared to say why! This was a great way to get the session started - especially as some of us had battled in despite the combined effects of inclement weather and the tube strike.
So we were very quickly energised to begin the session and learn about what Google had to offer. Our mission was set - to use the power of data and human behaviour to unlock insight. As someone who has spent their working life trying to gain insight this was right up my street. The next hour or so we spent thinking about what insight is and what tools are available to help us gain better insight.
Interestingly there was a side discussion about what mind state you are in when you have your best ideas. Google made the observation that use of mobile phones and use of laptops put us into "busy beta" mode and are not conducive to putting us into a mode where we can have good ideas. We were firmly discouraged from checking our emails or twitter feeds - rarely have I seen such a compliant audience. I must remember to use this example when I next have occasion to speak to a large audience.
Google talked about data being like a merry go round - where we can get on and off at will. You get off when you feel you have enough data to work with which will lead you to insight. So often the start point of something can come from the data itself. Equally we can propound a hypothesis which data can then help us prove.
However, data tools do not equal insight tools; this is where there should be a perfect partnership between data tools and the users of those tools who have the human expertise to pull out the insights.
The second part of the session was spent looking at some of the tools that Google has to offer and working on a hypothetical case study. The tools available are impressive and most of them can be found here http://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/.
We were taken through a couple of case studies. In the first one Unilever discovered, through understanding how people were communicating about hair products that none of this was brand led. They developed their own hub for people to come to for all hair product related matters regardless of the specific brand. It was data interrogation that led them to provide a cross brand offering which they would not otherwise have done.
The next case study was an example of a brand using something in the zeitgeist to latch on to. Brands so rarely link with whatever are the latest cultural things that are trending. We were then introduced to the world of screaming goats (yes, go and look, they really do scream). Apparently a 6 second user generated film featuring screaming goats, achieved over 9 million views! Doritos took this on a stage and used user generated content to develop their ad which was aired during the Super Bowl. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skyfAhlHj2E
This was a great example of agility in terms of creating the right message at the right time and leads neatly into our next Adaptathon centered on Agility, to be held at the beginning of May.
So we summed up the "learn" part of the session by agreeing three things
1. these kinds of online tools can be used to identify macro trends.
2. we should use these tools to help us leverage zeitgeist moments
3. we should use pretotyping and iterate until we get there.
Finally we rounded up by working on a case study, with the idea of using the tools we had seen to help us with some insight.
So the session was a great mix of both "learn" and "do" and certainly gave us all lots of food for thought. The Googlers in the session said that none of them had been taught how to use any of the tools they showed us! The aim is that you should be able to do it yourself and discover yourself. I think this is a mantra many of those who provide software to interrogate data would be wise to follow.
As is often the case in these kind of sessions various quotes were used to amplify a message or a thought, but one of the best was the one I will leave you with.
"Data makes your briefcase heavy - insight makes you rich"
Niall FitzGerald, former CEO of Unilever
Last updated 10/02/2014