An illustration of a diagram with human motivators on the left, then behavioral and product data on the right.
Image source the author

The customer data gap

I assume there is a BIG customer data gap in most organizations: who are collecting sales / product data and skinny behavioral / channel data expecting these are helpful to understanding their customers.

Helge Tennø
2 min readSep 16, 2023


But we need to be careful using something as simple as product sales and online behavior as proxies for something as complex as a human being.

Behavioral data is skinny data, it doesn’t tell us anything about the customer e.g. we don’t know what questions they are trying to answer, what insights that influence them, what they are trying to achieve or why. Behavioral data only tells us what the channel experiences. Behavioral data is not customer data, it’s channel data.

In the book “Why the world needs anthropologists” there are tons of valuable insights into what makes humans human. One of them is a reference to some of the influences that motivates us to behavior. These are things like: the environment we are in, our relationships, our culture and the context surrounding our behavior.

If we want to include the human in our strategies and decision making, these are the insights and data points we need to capture, make sense of and use. This is hard, but isn’t that why we got data, analytics, AI, ML ++ to solve hard problems? To manage complexity?

The big data gap in our organizations today is a customer data gap. Our lack of understanding of the customer and love for the simplicity of the digital channels and its technologies has led us down a rabbit hole where we are getting better and better at understanding our channels, while the customer still remains a mystery.