Turning information into insights
There's more to research than just finding information. The next step is making sense of what you've found and determining what it means to you and your organization. In this issue, I'd like to share some of my top tips for turning information into insights:
Charts, tables, and graphs turn boring numbers into meaningful information. These representations make it easy to spot patterns and connections in the data. Use the Chart Wizard feature in Microsoft Word to simplify the process. I also like to create templates, and just add the numbers when needed.
Create a matrix to facilitate comparisons. I use these when comparing my clients' products and services to those of their competitors, because they help with identifying gaps in the marketplace and key differentiators. Let me know if you'd like a copy of my template.
Put it in PowerPoint. This format encourages brevity, and it's a great way to distill the information and highlight key points. Be sure to include the answers to your original research questions and any relevant new insights.
You can read more quick tips for turning information into insights at my blog, MarcyPhelps.com.
In the December ResearchNOTES, I lamented the loss of one of my favorite free resources, zapdata.com, and asked if any readers knew of a good substitute. Thanks to everyone who reminded me that InfoUSA.com provides free business counts. Unfortunately, I haven't found a replacement for zapdata's handy local-level industry overviews.
Also, last month's issue contained a direct link to Google's advanced search page. Sadly, this link no longer works, and we're forced to use the more limited pull-down search feature. Does Google ever ask actual users what they think of some of these recent changes?
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