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Is data, its analysis & presentation akin to language & good communication

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Even though the word “data” in all possible combinations is being used by business, above all management, when it comes to strategy, I do have the feeling that the “word” has not been fully understood.

Speaking the same language

I tend to look at data like language, and data processes like communication.

What is language about?

Language has words, grammar and spelling.

There are different languages and dialects in this world and I think we all know that saying specific words isn’t the same as us understanding their meaning or others understanding them.

This is exactly the same for data.

Depending on who might have created the data it may have has its own equivalent individual handwriting and dialect. Is it hand-writing, handwriting or hand writing? You begin to maybe see the issue?

In order to have a standardised data set you need to follow defined rules and have your own localised grammar when creating your data set in order to have a readable document and understandable content.

The alternative is, that you end up using a proof reader or translator / interpreter to make the the data set meaningul once it has been created.

Good content?

I think we would all agree that even if you read a piece written in the “best possible language”, its value and usefulness is far from guaranteed.

This is exactly true for data driven content. Your view will depend a lot on what you are interested in and what you want / need to know.

It sounds simple and it can be, but you always have to be clear about what information you expect to get from your data, what is going to help you and what can create value for you.

Looks good, sounds good and delivers great information – perfect! Is it really?

We’ve all heard enough about fake news. When it comes to data, then the results, reports, analysis, the statistics that you will receive in the end are dependent on the data points it has been compiled from.

So What?

What does it mean for your data process?

In short – you need to validate your data and implement relevant processes to ensure good data.

But AI does it all for me!

The short answer is NO.

The longer version is, AI is definitely applicable and helpful in certain parts of the process, but it’s definitely not a silver bullet. You need to check, if your data is AI ready, analyse the feasibility and evaluate the result vs. the investment of time and resources.

With use cases and benefits for data often spread around the enterprise, the business case is often seen at best as marginal.  Combined with a lack of understanding of best in class techniques for data sourcing, cleansing and enriching this often results in perfectly good business cases being passed over for another year and the same old dismal status quo.

What can help, is  to consult with an experienced expert in this exact area, but this is a topic on its own.

Letter or Email?

We are now at the point where we have a data set that has the right language, dialect, grammar, and delivers validated useful information. So what´s next?

Now we are coming to the point where communication starts. Your data needs to connect with other systems, tools, software in order to create real value and enable processes that were not possible before; or at least not in that speed, level of automation, accuracy, etc.

We may also need to understand and decide through which channels to communicate. In the same way, we can use different channels for communication like a letter, phone, email, tiktok and many others. In the data world you can use various databases, web-services and other tech.

Not every channel is good for every type of communication and deciding which technology or solution is best for you is crucial for smooth, secure, swift and reliable communication.

You can see many great solutions all around you, that have leveraged the best of data and technology to deliver a new digital service/experience, when using apps, booking hotels, ordering products online.

At the same time in many industries and businesses it feels rather like information from a guest book is being distributed by a carrier pigeon.

The main reason for this in my opinion, is the misunderstanding of what data is and the misjudgment of the state a company is, when it comes to data and related infrastructure.

Happily there’s no reason to despair.  Technology has evolved apace and the ability to cost effectively leverage it to enable data led processes, solutions and customer value creation is nearer at hand than it‘s ever been. 

It sometimes just needs more people to start speaking the same language – very often it helps to learn the language yourself, and more often than not it helps to have an experienced hand who knows the language to help you along the way.

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