Thursday, September 04, 2003

Drowning in Data, But Needing Conclusions: Some Solutions (Part 2)
But let's assume that you do have an information warehouse, or you are thinking about how to look at all the information that your myriad systems are collecting and feeding into a number of centralized locations (physically or virtual centralization). What do you do to explore this enormous and complex data?

There are I think a number of solutions.

First, you can rely upon the brilliance of your people. People can become very expert in using such systems and can learn to extract key information over time.

Second, you can find suppliers - consultants, software package developers, and those rare organizations with high levels of skills in both - and have them come up with best practices in extracting information that is tied to your strategic and operational objectives.

Third, you can pursue a more biological approach. Develop small and often simple pieces of technology that act as a "software agents" and look for connections between information in your information warehouse or information marts. Software agents might have different objectives. Some might look at patterns that drive performance in a company. Some might look at financial transactions to spot fraud. Some might look at relationships with suppliers. Some might like at sales force effectiveness. Some might like at customer segmentation and buying practices.

In fact, you might have multiple agents floating around your systems with different induced hypotheses about patterns in your data. And over time, outcomes will provide feedback and allow the agents to evolve.

In other words, there is likely not one answer to the problem of using the information you own or have access to to create new and valuable conclusions from your explosion in data. Over time, you are going to see interactions and learning occurring between your people, your suppliers and software agents reviewing your performance and data.

People's knowledge evolves. Managers learn what works. Suppliers spread best practices. And "software agents" may discover patterns in complexity that are invisible to other ways you are using to look at your organizations.

New conclusions developed in new ways -- it's rather interesting and potentially quite powerful for some organizations.

Alistair Davidson

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