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Across industries, companies are using the vast amounts of user-generated data to guide innovation of new products and services. But data mining does not equate to developing “customer intelligence,” write Lara Lee and Daniel Sobol of Continuum on Harvard Business Review’s Blog.

Human behavior is nuanced and complex, and no matter how robust it is, data can provide only part of the story. Desire and motivation are influenced by psychological, social, and cultural factors that require context and conversation in order to decode.

Data can reveal new patterns that point a firm in the right direction, but it can’t indicate what to do once there. It reveals what people do, but not why they do it. And understanding the why is critical to innovation.

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