The Big Data/Business Intelligence Conundrum needs to be solved before the IoT takes off
Chicken and Egg, or is it? Clearly the Human was first, but does Data care? Nah, data thinks it can isolate itself and outlive humans by staying inaccessible. Has AI arrived without us realising? Is our way of live under threat?
Funny thoughts this morning, but there is a serious challenge the way I see it and the challenge is how to figure out how to make smarter –data based- decisions in the future.
Information wins, or does it?
I’m not saying you should, but if you think of business as war and you like brainy quotes, look at some of what Sun Tzu has said 2500 years ago:
“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”
“If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.”
“He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious.”
All of this suggests that you better know exactly what you are doing and you have all information readily available and made accessible, but you don’t have to be a die-hard strategist to see the value of data/information segmented in manageable, relevant chunks. Many smart people have seen the problem arising. Gertrude Stein for example said almost 70 years ago: “Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” T.S. Elliott puts it more philosophically, when he reflects: “Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”
All these quotes suggest that Information is and always has been out there and probably more information than can be easily consumed.
Because of the vast amount of information, people are getting scared and revert back to old habits that they feel comfortable with, meaning they make decisions based on Gut-Feel rather than on connecting various data-points. This can be fatal. In most cases it is as bad as someone suspecting a problem to be existential, but not going to the doctor.
You have a problem and you ignore it by not talking about it and relying on your gut feeling and instincts to work it out. Guess what: You won’t.
A Possible Approach
We –collectively- need to find ways of how to distil down information, make it consumable and package it in bite-size chunks, so that we don’t feel overwhelmed, but informed. Big Data is progressing with lightning speed and there is no end in sight. The challenge will get bigger not smaller. The Internet-of-Things is very, very close and will give Big-Data another boost. Information availability and reusability is already the basis for many new and coming businesses.
Because of this, innovation and other business cycles have gotten significantly shorter and most business has gone global with better-informed customers. Customers with higher expectations than ever before and with the ability to instantly validate what you are suggesting. You cannot outsmart the masses, but here is what you can do:
Look at your problem -> Look at your desired outcome -> Decide the components of success -> Research the data and try and keep it 3C (Current, correct and complete) by assigning responsibility and KPI’s -> Design a Data2Human interface that explains to you a maximum of 7 key points in a highly visual format -> Educate and Train à Manage the Change
The real challenge here is that designing the Data2Human interface is not something that typically resides within an organisation as a core capability. Also there are a number of challenges along the way, before you even get to that point and they are always the same:
- How do you find the data?
- How do you validate the data?
- How can you use tools that you already have and integrate with your future reporting dashboards?
- How can you set alarms, identify trends, benchmark your performance, etc.?
- How can you distinguish between different viewers and contributors?
- Do you foster open collaboration, or do you need to keep information secure?
Where do we go from here?
Vendors of strategy solutions traditionally have answered some of the questions above. They have been looking at it from an architecture perspective, tried to put blueprints in place, or segmented information into portfolios to make it easier to manage. Few have succeeded.
In many cases they haven’t succeeded because the problem is not a technical one. It is a very human problem. It is about the fear of change, it is about the fear of the unknown and it is about reluctance to change and the preference to stay with the status quo.
But the good news is that there are now tools and techniques that have been developed over the past 2-6 years that can interpret information and can genuinely support that change. Also, companies have learned about this soft side and the implementation of such tools and the supporting communication has genuinely improved.
Companies, such as IntentHQ put AI into social intelligence and make sense of big data for the first time, to support decision makers in marketing and general management, EnergyDeck allows to understand trends and set alerts to create sustainable strategies for Facility Managers and companies, again based in IoT-ready Big Data. Firms such as StrategyBlocks, now allow you to put everything into perspective for the first time and service providers start to understand more and more about managing the soft side.
But first things first: If you as an organisation feel overwhelmed, go through the simple steps above and try to focus on the relevant information. Use common sense and the Pareto principle to get started and then look at tools that make your life easier, as they store data and maintain the right level of accuracy to foster change and to support innovation.
More and more data and information at an ever-faster pace will create an exciting new world and we are starting to getting a handle on Data, but always remember: We were there first!
HAL 9000 over and out…..