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Combining Empathy with Rationality for Better Insights to Analytics

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Data-Driven Personas for Enhanced User Understanding: Combining Empathy with Rationality for Better Insights to Analytics

Persona is a common human-computer interaction technique for increasing stakeholders’ understanding of audiences, customers, or users.

Applied in many domains, such as e-commerce, health, marketing, software development, and system design, personas have remained relatively unchanged for several decades.

However, with the increasing popularity of digital user data and data science algorithms, there are new opportunities to progressively shift personas from general representations of user segments to precise interactive tools for decision-making.

In this vision, the persona profile functions as an interface to a fully functional analytics system.

With this research, we conceptually investigate how data-driven personas can be leveraged as analytics tools for understanding users.

We present a conceptual framework consisting of (a) persona benefits, (b) analytics benefits, and (c) decision-making outcomes.

We apply this framework for an analysis of digital marketing use cases to demonstrate how data-driven personas can be leveraged in practical situations.

We then present a functional overview of an actual data-driven persona system that relies on the concept of data aggregation in which the fundamental question is defining the unit of analysis for decision making.

The system provides several functionalities for stakeholders within organizations to address this question.

Jansen, B. J., Salminen, J., and Jung, S.G. (2020) Data-Driven Personas for Enhanced User Understanding: Combining Empathy with Rationality for Better Insights to Analytics. Data and Information Management. 4(1), 1-17.
https://content.sciendo.com/view/journals/dim/4/1/article-p1.xml

By Jim Jansen

Dr. Jansen is a Principal Scientist in the social computing group of the Qatar Computing Research Institute, and a professor with the College of Science and Engineering, Hamad bin Khalifa University, and an adjunct professor with the College of Information Sciences and Technology at The Pennsylvania State University. He is a graduate of West Point and has a Ph.D. in computer science from Texas A&M University, along with master degrees from Texas A&M (computer science) and Troy State (international relations). Dr. Jim Jansen served in the U.S. Army as an Infantry enlisted soldier and communication commissioned officer.