What is data?

what is data infographic
To celebrate the launch of the figuringoutdata blog, we are starting by defining what we mean by data.

Taken in the context of business efficiency (as distinct from, say, mobile phone usage) data can be formed from any set of numbers, any items of text, any image.

It becomes ‘data’ once it is stored and has the potential to be used as a source of information about some aspect of the business.

In the search for greater business efficiency data has a vital role to play. We need to have ‘counts’ that tell us how well our business is working and where to look if we want to make it work better.

Those counts cannot sit in isolation.  They have to convey information. E.g. how they compare across time, or compare with other counts, and whether they indicate that something about the business is changing.

That information gives us confidence that we understand what’s going on. Without it we have only assumptions.

But, three conditions have to be met for that confidence to be possible:

> Clarity about the message conveyed ;
> Relevance of the message to those involved;
> Unambiguity about its meaning for the business.

It doesn’t take much to knock that confidence. E.g. a message that doesn’t fit with what people already know, or that uses numbers that are not fully understood, or that is hard to relate to immediate priorities.

Those tasked with creating the message must therefore have a deep understanding of the business and the questions to be answered, and be able to see how the data in the business can provide the answers, and be adept at accessing and using it to tell a clear and compelling story.

We help businesses to achieve operational excellence. We identify what’s needed to get there, and we help build the operational capabilities required.

We also help those businesses to develop a culture centred around the use of data.  This involves investing in technology and training to make its use commonplace across the business – analysis of operations, modelling decisions, predicting the future.

Those that embed the use of data at the heart of their business never look back. They typically see rates of growth that outstrip that of their competitors.

In the blogs that follow we will be exploring in depth how to drive business efficiency and achieve operational excellence.  And what sort of commitment is required for a data centred culture to become a reality.

Paul Clarke
Director, Develin Consulting.

For more about what we do please go to our homepage here.