Drowning in Data! Should that be an excuse for inaction!

Wouldn’t it be something, if we had a total understanding of the laws governing the reality around us! Imagine for a moment that’s the case. What would that really mean for us? Do we gain any advantage? Perhaps, we can then tweak the reality or adjust ourselves to better cope with reality, always to our advantage. But what is to our advantage, and furthermore, do we really need a total understanding to reap that advantage or a partial understanding will do as well?

The lure for understanding the world around us is always tempting and addictive. We have been striving for understanding forever using so-called scientific methods as well as by methods not so scientific. The latest in that chain of efforts is the attempt to understand the reality through its digital footprint. Armed with the strong conviction that treasures are buried in these digital footprints, we are feverishly devising more and more ways of capturing these footprints and building up an exponentially growing pile of digitized information, assuming that we simply can or have to let the computing power be loose on this pile to help us become wiser moment by moment.  The net result is data addiction and the Big Data phenomenon.

Rescue us please, we are drowning in data! This cry for help is being more and more loud these days while the data continues to pile up at higher and higher rate. Where is the help going to come from? Is it going to be a temporary relief or a longer-lasting cure? We all want answers.

We might be seeking advantage without being really aware of what is to our advantage. A business seeks advantage primarily against its competition or customers. Historically, this advantage emanated from information disparity. In today’s customer-centric business climate, the advantage to be sought is primarily against competition. With democratization of data fueled by open public data initiatives and individuals quantifying themselves ever more willingly, your competition has the same access to information and analytics tools as you have. Thus, in today’s world advantage from information disparity, if at all, can only be short lived. Well, if not from information disparity, then where does the business advantage come from? And, why do we keep on capturing more and more data and creating bigger and bigger data lakes and reservoirs?

Business advantage comes from timely action even if the action is not the best-possible at the time. In our quest for squeezing every ounce of value from data, if we are not able to react in time, then our data and analysis capability is worth a dime. Data deluge as an excuse for inaction is well … just an excuse albeit an expensive one.

Human brains have always dealt with more information than seemingly manageable. We may temporarily feel overloaded with information, but quickly bounce back and take timely actions to our advantage. By exploring and understanding how our brains deal with information overload, is it possible to apply similar principles in a business context to save businesses from drowning in data?

Welcome to the brave new world of Cognitive Analytics!

Author: Dr.Satyendra Rana

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