businessman-with-binoculars-44303560-resized-600In blog posts, our LinkedIn Groups, on Facebook, we tend to throw the words “data” & “insight” around like they are one in the same. I know, I know, last week we talked about “Excel” vs. “spreadsheets” this week it’s “data” & “insight.” Has 9DOTS Thinking Outside the Box blog suddenly become a long-winded vocabulary lesson!? I promise you the answer is no, AND I am going to keep it short. The difference between the words “data” and “insight” are just as important as last weeks post (found here), if not more important, because we ALL use the words as synonyms–even previous 9DOTS blogs!

To keep it short & sweet:

  • Data = unprocessed facts, in no organized fashion, from multiple different sources
  • Insight = actionable knowledge that comes from data

This may seem like something small and insignificant, but it is critical to identify the difference. You see, that while it is great to have tons of data, you may not have all of the information or knowledge you really need to gain competitive advantage. How many products did you sell last month? You probably know that number off the top of your head! But why? Why did you sell (or not sell) that amount? What will you accomplish as a business next month, in 6 months, based on the data & numbers you have from last year? Is that change in marketing that you made working positively?

With the right analytics, data can be pulled together from different sources, be organized and help you gain knowledge you didn’t even realize you could have about your organization. Many businesses use data to drive actions and decisions, but if information gives you actionable insight you are much closer to finding value. Turning data into INSIGHT creates the narrative you need to tell your story. As long as you have the correct tools to do so, you will see drastically less unorganized numbers and much more actionable knowledge and information.


Before the smoke detector, the common man knew little about fire prevention. Today, the use of the smoke detector has completely changed your safety:

  • Three out of five home fire deaths result from fires in properties without working smoke detectors
  • More than one-third (37 percent) of home fire deaths result from fires in which no smoke detection are present.
  • The risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half in homes with working smoke detection.

You own a house. And in that house are multiple smoke detectors, decorating the walls and ceilings of random rooms awaiting the rare instance that your house does go up in flames. These smoke detectors do just that, detect the smoke before the fire so that you and your family get out safe. It wouldn’t be beneficial if your house were on fire, burning to the ground and suddenly and alarm goes off telling you there’s a fire. I think at that point we’d already know.

The CEO of any sized company doesn’t know IT jargon, nor can he spend the time needed to look at loads of spreadsheets and discover what is going on. When a CEO of any sized organization looks at information about the progress of their company, one thought is on his or her mind “What can I do to make us more profitable?”  It’s not really beneficial to know all the good you’ve done. Boosting company morale is great, but when there is red in your charts on your dashboard, and metrics show your competition is surpassing you, you know you have to stop it immediately.

Enter Dashboards: The common business man’s smoke detector–complete with graphs and charts that represent your data. The number one reason to implement data visualization in 2015 was demand from executive leadership for self-service analysis. “Data visualization becomes a critical enabler for disseminating insights to senior leaders who may not have the technical ability, or frankly the time, to customize reports or analyze data in Excel” (Gleansight Benchmark Report 2015). You can use dashboards to visualize performance, but the real value is using them to detect the smoke in your organization. Without dashboards you can’t see disaster coming.

Consider the following facts that are directly related to dashboard ownership:

  • Better decision making – Simplistic views and revenue streams provide immediate insight to pivot your corporations quickly
  • Revenue Growth – By being able to visualize your stream by relevant segment (i.e. Region, department, product, sku, etc..) changes can be made to enhance further growth in faster growing areas.
  • Improved Operational Efficiency – The knowledge to know where and why we are losing profitability can be known before it’s too late.
  • Enhanced Customer Service – Value added services through visualization for your customer base. This allows your customer to make better decisions with you as their vendor!

Smoke detectors save lives and they save homes. Their purchase has become a no brainer in the personal residence industry. They are a proven tool for detecting issues before they occur.

In the corporate world, the same critical detection exists today with Dashboards. Everyone can use them, everyone can gain from their on-demand, visually stimulating, and easy-to-use interfaces. Therefore, the question can no longer be, why do I need it? But instead should become do I need 1 for every office?

Excel running screamingHave you been hearing all of these different CEOs, business owners, and more talk about how much they hate Excel? We have. And we have a bone to pick with them. What all of these business people tend to forget is that it’s not Excel we can’t stand-it’s spreadsheets! They are not synonymous terms.

Microsoft Excel is a problem solving tool used by over 500-million people. Because so many business users are frustrated every day with tons of spreadsheets, they are tending to miss out on the true power of Microsoft Excel-the world’s most popular productivity tool. Excel is a part of your entire work day. Maybe it is even the first application you open in the morning, and the last you close out at night. There is just no giving up something that familiar, reliable and useful.

89% of users use Excel for Budgeting, Planning and Forecasting.

There are tools out there, like the tools here at 9DOTS, that allow you to keep the familiarity and reliability of the work you do every single day, but also eliminate the stressful, rigid and hard to use aspects. Often, we discuss change to our readers (refer to our David Bowie, Ch-Ch-Changes Article), but it is really just adjusting with your already familiar processes, to stronger more comprehensive ones.  It’s not Excel that is holding you back, but it may be tons of spreadsheets. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Human error: Incorrect numbers and calculations can cause a domino effect of mistakes. You work in a fast paced environment, there is no time for error, and sometimes there’s no time to slow down and be as thorough as you could be. Today, your usual workday and work environment is fast paced. You need information in real-time. With a business intelligence solution that still uses the familiarity of excel, but eliminates the chance for mistakes you will be leaps and bounds above the competition that still uses spreadsheets, and you have an even smarter way to analyze your data.
  • You Can’t Forecast as Often: With a Business Intelligence forecasting solution that uses the power of Excel, you won’t start a your organization could continuously forecast at least 18-24 periods forward. Months of crunching numbers can be consolidated to days or even hours. Real-time information and managing risk with ease puts you above the rest.
  • It’s challenging to add a dashboarding tool to your processes: But dashboards are actually a great, easy way to analyze data. It’s nearly impossible to view and understand multiple spreadsheets at one glance. With a dashboard, you can see charts and graphs that make all of those spreadsheets make sense. Eliminating the time you’d spend to understand cells of spreadsheets, and adding time to your regular work day.

Just like 9DOTS, Excel is a problem solver! Just remember–your problems with spreadsheets aren’t problems with Excel. With a little extra help you can harness the power tool you have along with 500 million others, but stand out among the rest.



9Dots Management Corps will be attending the Legal Marketing Association’s (LMA) fourth annual P3 conference at the Westin Chicago River North, Chicago, Illinois. from May 17th-18th.


9DOTS Executive Vice President, Legal Solutions & Chief Revenue Officer, David Libesman will lead a panel discussion – The Science of Data in Support of Pricing – with experienced industry experts: Barry Mehew, Global Director Pricing Strategy & Legal Project Management, Mayer Brown LLP, Catherine Schmidt, Manager, Matter Analytics & Pricing, Dechert LLP, & Eddie Raychaudhuri, Chief Pricing Officer, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP. Together, they will delve into an informative conversation on the science of data, “How far has your firm progressed in data analysis and what new and innovative approaches to data mining are firms using to support pricing?” In addition, Libesman will also lead a service provider demonstration session on The Importance of LPM Solution Flexibility.


Libesman has over twenty years of experience and has aided over 25 AMLAW clients by keeping them equipped with best practices to achieving greater profitability.  9DOTS has been solving problems with data & analytics for the legal industry since 2001. The LMA Conference brings together firms from all different specialties and sizes. Together, the different vendors, lawyers and marketers take advantage of the broad array of programs and services.


About Legal Marketing Association

LMA is a community that brings together all types of industry specialists from firms of all sizes. Consultants and vendors, lawyers, marketers from other professions, and marketing students can connect and share their collective knowledge. Members at every stage in their career development benefit from their LMA participation because our broad array of programs and services can be tailored to their needs.  


About 9Dots Management Corp

9Dots is a company dedicated and driven to solving problems with Data & Analytics. It helps its client’s leveraging a team of Out-of-the-Box thinkers to tackle your business challenges. They are leaders in Business Intelligence & Corporate Performance Management. For more information, visit:





Samantha Florio | 9DOTS

Marketing Associate

1100 E. Hector St.|Ste. 245|Conshohocken, PA 19428 |