Imagine going to the doctors and they take a download of your personal fitness gadgets. A load of detailed charts about your health appears on a screen. You are well-educated enough to understand the meaning of all the analysis and you know what you have to do to change the things that aren’t so healthy looking. The doctors and you don’t talk about symptoms anymore, you talk about facts and figures.
Thanks to the data, going to the doctors will no longer be an exercise in intelligent guesswork. It will be a data-driven exercise in getting you better. That is an incredibly soothing thought. The data will tell its story and you will feel well again soon.
Data can be incredibly soothing in the business environment too. You have plans for the future, but you need to be able to analyze the past and the present to ensure that you are on the right track. You need reassurance that you are doing the right thing, and while experience can rightly play a part, there is nothing like being able to quote a few figures to support your story when someone starts to challenge it. In our data-driven world, not having figures to back up your plans is inexcusable.
There is one important consideration.
You have to understand where the data comes from.
You might wear a fitness tracker and you see that it is working. It records your steps, it records your raised heartbeat when you get up at night and it is in sync with how you are feeling about yourself. It is part of your life and you grow to trust it. Therefore, you are able to reach soothing conclusions about the data that it spits out.
In business, the data is not always soothing because it is not entirely trusted. Unless people understand where it comes from, they will never be entirely secure when they use it. The biggest challenge for big data professionals is not analyzing the data, that is the easy bit. Their challenge is explaining where the data comes from in the first place. If the rest of the business understands that the data is consistently reflecting what is going on in the business, the conclusions that it reaches will be incredibly soothing.
'Yes, we are on the right track. We are making the right decisions.'
If the origin of the data is less than reliable, the reaction is the opposite of soothing. There will be deep mistrust in the finding and the data may as well not be there at all. The tricky thing is that it just takes a few times for the data to be wrong and there will be an uphill battle to get it to the point where it can be soothing again.
If Big Data is not offering a soothing reassurance to the rest of the business, there is no point it being there in the first place.
Belief in the integrity of the data is what the doctor ordered.