It’s about making decisions based on the best available data. But you can’t make decisions unless you’ve asked the right questions. It’s a human process. The data is there to support it. That’s the simple conclusion I got from reading Fujitsu’s latest Insight Guide, Lost in Data: How to Stop Hoarding Data and Start using it to Answer Important Business Questions.
It proved the point that you have to start with a human-centric approach to your business. How should your people work? How can they work better? How can they gain quicker insights into markets? How can they act faster and more intelligently? How can they have new ideas and innovate?
They’re not new questions. In fact, they’re the oldest questions in business. What’s different now is the sheer volume of data you can use to answer them. But, if you don’t start with the questions you’re in danger of getting lost in the data – not matter if it’s structured or unstructured.
Many organizations get blinded by the numbers. There’s so much data that they don’t know where to start. They don’t know where to look. It’s hard to bring all the sources of data together and make the numbers work together to achieve insight. Of course, that’s what analytical tools are for, but they don’t do it magically. There’s no single algorithm that can turn information into knowledge and then deliver the wisdom needed to make good decisions. Only the human brain can do that in the end.
So, again, it goes back to how you approach your data. Don’t see it as the answer, see it as the means to an answer. In 2015 Stephen Hawking asked Mark Zuckerberg what big question he’d like to answer – Hawking was looking for a unified theory of gravity. Zuckerberg said he’d like to find ‘a fundamental mathematical law underlying human social relationships that governs the balance of who and what we all care about.” That sounds even more ambitious than unifying all the physical forces in the universe!
Zuckerberg believes in numbers. That’s fine for Facebook. It’s their business model: harvesting data from social media and selling it to advertisers. But, most businesses are about more than that. You can’t wait for patterns to reveal themselves from the numbers, you must use the numbers to support a business objective. So, you need to start your thinking with that objective: what do you want to achieve? That’s the only way you can turn data into positive action in the long-run.
Read our latest Insight Guide, Lost in Big Data How you can stop hoarding data and start using it to answer important business questions.
Read our latest infographic, The real value of numbers
See our latest video about “Data Analytics: Getting closer to your customer”