Monday, July 14, 2014

The Sixth Data Sense

Initially, I thought of writing about the importance of our ability to sense, or be receptive to information, but then it occurred to me, that I could also take this further and break to concept into 6 dimensions of "data sensory" categories. So here goes:

Our data sense is our ability to pick up data signals, filter and analyze them into meaningful information. While all our human senses do this all the time biologically in our body, there is a relevant analogy here to the "business body".

Companies are often compared to a human organism. We talk about the ability of various units within a company to communicate with each other; their ability to respond to change, and how their internal design and components affect their effectiveness and consumption of resources.

Similarly, we can look at the "data sensitivity" of a company as a fundamental sensory capability: The effectiveness of the company to absorb and integrate information into their processes - undoubtedly affects their ability to cope with its environment. So we can talk about over sensitivity (information overload), information deficiencies (disabilities in information processing) as well as information blindness (which may sometimes be aided by information sight-aiding tools, such as consultants and investors).

This now leads us to a natural need to define a set of categories which can be used to assess how "data blind" (or not) your business might be?

1. Information Blindness: The company is unable to translate information from its environment into "normal" response to stimulus. There are a lot of aspects to consider in this definition, starting from where to failure occurs (from leadership to field agents) to possible broken means of integrating data into decision making.

2. Information blind spots: The company is able to absorb and process some data, but is acutely deficient in processing certain types of information, or respond to certain environmental conditions. Again, there are a multitude of factors that may lead to this condition.

3. Information blurriness: Information is absorbed, analyzed and translated to responses, but the details are inaccurate, and the actions lead to an over, or under estimation of the required behavior. Here you could expect either an issue in correctly translating data into information, or flawed decision making processes, which might allow for too much subjectivity or restrictions in response.

4. Information vision delays: Here we are looking at time-to-market of information. How old is the data being used for decisions? How well is the company adapting to the information it has received? You can expect a large and "clunky" company to struggle in this category.

5. Information distortion: Information is misrepresented to the business, or the business is responding to the information through an incorrect interpretation of data. This is an issue with the way data is filtered and/or delivered to the business.

6. Information sensitivity: This category looks at how expensive the sourcing and integration of information is to the company. If the costs are too high, and the results are poor - we have a condition of low sensitivity. If the company consumes too many sources, and struggles to respond consistently to its environment, we may be dealing with information over-sensitivity.

These definitions, while presented here to stimulate thought, could in fact prove helpful in characterizing information sensory issues and their causes, which when treated correctly, could help your business succeed.

So what are you waiting for? Why don't you give your business a data vision assessment based on the categories above?

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