Care Less About the Data: It’s What You Do With It That Matters

February 4, 2011 at 9:24 am 3 comments

By Mary Ludloff

A clarion call for analytics.

It’s late in the evening and we are rehearsing (for the last time) what we will be talking about during our session at Strata. I have a stopwatch (timing to make sure that we don’t go over) and to be honest, practically sleeping with my eyes open. As I may have mentioned in a previous post, it’s been a very long couple of weeks at PatternBuilders. And then Terence says, “I could care less about the data—it’s what you do with it that matters.” That woke me right up.

Do you sometimes feel that you are in a data stupor? That there’s so much noise out there that you don’t know which station you should be listening to? We pay a lot of attention to data, we talk about how it’s increasing, how every personal device we use is exponentially adding to it, how everything we do is adding to it. For example, did you know that the amount of digital information will grow by a factor of 44 annually from 2009 to 2010?

All that data and everyone has an opinion on what to do with it or what they want from it or what they want you to do with it or which is the best technology to use for it (take a deep breath). It is exhausting and at the same time, exhilarating, because all that data means nothing unless we do something with it. It’s what you do with it that matters.

As the data grows, the ability to dissect it, to make sense of it, to act upon what you have made sense of, is reaching critical mass: its analytics or bust time. Cases in point:

  • There’s more revenue for your business—a Texas University research project shows that by increasing the usability of data in a median size Fortune 1000 company by 10% (the power of data analytics) translates into an increase in more than $2 billion in total revenues every year.
  • There’s a $3 million prize waiting for you and the gratitude of a nation burdened with spiraling healthcare costs, if you can just figure out which of 100,000 patients from an actual 2009 database required an unplanned hospital admission in 2010. If you can analyze the data made available and come up with a model that predicts readmissions, savings of up to $30 billion could be realized, the estimated cost of unnecessary hospitalizations throughout the U.S.
  • There’s the rise in data journalism where data sets are analyzed so instead of following where the story leads, you are following the data to discover the stories. To fully understand what this means, read about how The Guardian covered the WikiLeaks releases and extracted stories from it while protecting informant’s names as well as ensuring that whatever they wrote about did not unnecessarily endanger NATO troops.
  • There’s the demand for “better, faster, cheaper” that seems to come right alongside the latest technology innovation. For example, Mark Suster would like to see some recommendation slicing, so he can sort out the information that is really useful to him from all that other stuff. I see this as having a virtual “you” that can be compared to other ones that meet a certain set of criteria so that the recommendations (analysis) you receive—from whatever site you are using—are more directed at “you.”

Whatever you do, professionally or personally, analytics can make your life easier, save you money, and give you back the gift of time. At PatternBuilders, we often encounter the data stupor when we are talking to prospects, and yes, even customers. They often get caught up in the input (all that data) and forget that the output (what the data means) is far more important.  It’s time to get off that data fence and in the words of Jim Harris, “Data in, decision out.”

Or, put another way, “Care less about the data. It’s what you do with it that matters.”

Entry filed under: Data, General Analytics. Tags: , , , , , .

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