The Ever-Evolving Business of Insight. It’s All about Context.
Value comes in many shapes and sizes in today’s ever-evolving world of intelligence delivery solutions
Insight … ‘the act or result of apprehending the inner nature of things or of seeing intuitively.’ Thank you, Merriam-Webster. Business Intelligence. Advanced Analytics. Big Data. Operations Intelligence. The Internet-of-Things. And on and on it goes. It’s all about gaining insight.
More likely than not, we’re all doing some pretty clever stuff in the realm of intelligence delivery today. At the same time, it seems that we may be losing fundamental ‘insight’ when it comes to differentiating and understanding the unique value proposition these various intelligence-focused capabilities mean to an organization. Yes … It’s become a bit of a mash-up on the intelligence delivery front and that’s not necessarily a good thing. So please … allow me to get intuitive.
Let’s start with the underlying premise that the alphabet soup that’s evolved in the brave new world of intelligence delivery has left far too much to the imagination. My most recent read of Gartner’s 2017 Annual Analytics Report only reinforces this. Intelligence delivery demands context. And clear understanding of context is what defines value. At the end of the day, it’s value that holds up any new intelligence capability. Whether in the form of cost containment or revenue growth. In a later piece, I’ll dive into these value drivers, as they relate to the manufacturing industry.
This is an age-old problem that plagued early BI deployments from the get-go. We embarked on infrastructure projects with the promise of building a temple that would deliver on wisdom that we all longed for (i.e. the Data Warehouse). So we sold the concept and built a team, investing significant resources with the promise of one day flipping the switch and bringing wisdom to the masses. That road was littered with one failed deployment after another.
At the core of these many failed BI initiatives was a lack of context. Context in the sense of specific problems we needed to address and the associated financial opportunity. BI Ver. 2.0 started taking on a much more context-oriented strategy as the notion of the functionally-focused ‘data mart’ took hold. The financial, sales and operations focused data marts not only allowed an organization to eat the elephant one bite at a time, it created a value-driven mindset to go after the low hanging fruit in a much more timely and incremental fashion.
Fast forward to today and the new world of IoT. The nature of this beast brings an entirely new level of abstraction to defining value-driven context that can best leverage the key attributes inherent in this new intelligence delivery model. Our heads want to take us to the structured data environments that have anchored the overwhelming majority of intelligence deployments we’ve stood up over the past 15 years…
…But, when we keep top-of-mind the words ‘internet-of-things’, we open the door to think in a much more out-of-the-box way about acquiring data – both structured and unstructured – from wherever it may live, to tell us stories that we simply couldn’t tell before. Reaching broadly to capture valuable pieces of data or compilations of data in near real time that – when held up against expected performance models – alert us to conditions that require attention. At the same time, we can associate any number of physical or environmental attributes like geo or weather data that allows us to begin to understand other external factors that have a hand in affecting repeated patterns of both desirable and undesirable outcomes.
Just as BI was in the early going, IoT is a unique intelligence delivery model that will deliver significant new value to the market in the years ahead. What we learned from that earlier era was the need to focus on context-driven models that drove clear value creation. And that’s a lesson we must hang onto.
This is the business of insight. As Merriam-Webster tells us, insight is … ‘the act or result of apprehending the inner nature of things or of seeing intuitively.’ When we approach intelligence delivery with a lens that creates an intuitive view to the otherwise unforeseen nature of things, then we can say – and will say – we did our job well.