Insights

10 Tips for Your Smart Data Road Trip

Bernard Marr recently wrote an article titled “20+ Mind- Blowing Facts about Big Data Everyone Must Read” – it was definitely worth a few minutes of ‘sucking in’ the scale and enormity of the big data juggernaut, for example:

  • The data volumes are exploding, more data has been created in the past two years than in the entire previous history of the human race.
  • Data is growing faster than ever before, and by the year 2020, about seven megabytes of new information will be created every second for every human being on the planet.

The next day I read an article about another good example of how business can exploit the now accessible and affordable predictive analytics technology – yes, I have written a few articles like that, too!

... And the next day brought a conversation with a fellow analytics aficionado; we debated the value of big data investment versus exploiting what you currently have. She wanted more of everything now; I wanted to nail the basics and deliver smarter data now. Which would ultimately deliver the biggest ROI over the short, medium and long term? Of course we agreed to disagree – both leaving with the correct answer, of course!

However, I was clearly correct, and I will explain my logic on this one. Too many organisations are being led into a superficial world of style over substance. It’s all about visualization – I need another 22 bubble style spider spinner charts; a data table will just not do any more. And how about self-service? We clearly need everyone drilling through these bubble charts looking for clues as to why our profits are falling – the reality is that most people are poor analysts and have not got the time to do ‘fishing trips’ anyway.

We need to get back to basics before any smart data road trip:

  1. Treat data as a critical asset
  2. Data needs to generate insight that creates action
  3. Your data must support ‘what drives your business’ – connect balanced indicators to outcomes
  4. Consider any skews and unintended consequences – ‘the numbers made me do it sir!’
  5. Information is power - everyone has a responsibility to protect it and use it ethically
  6. You need to make data transparent and visible at all levels – ‘what gets measured gets done’
  7. Align the measures to staff performance objectives and appraisals – drive the right activity
  8. Make the data available at the right time, right place, in the right format – don’t stick it on a phone app if a whiteboard is better!
  9. Focus on data quality – you will be amazed how much it can improve if you make it visible and connected to outcomes
  10. Get everyone contributing to the smart data journey – ownership is key

So how much will these 10 tips cost? Peanuts. How much business benefit and ROI will it generate? An awful lot.

Once you have the basics right, you can start thinking about exploiting big data and new technology, such as predictive analytics.

Like life, big data is a journey. Keep it smart and you will evolve and flourish.

Article written by Sean Price
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