Upside Down/ Perception and the Data Monster

I sat there staring at it for a long time. It had been hanging there for a while and I’d walked by it numerous times, some with little notice and some with extended study. A gift from a good friend from Australia, it was a mandala. This particular style of painting is meant to represent a picture of feeling, emotion, self-reconstruction, the universe that though not abstract in design provides a circular presentation of geometric shapes that for some reason, today, just didn’t look right. There was something about it that I’d felt before that was now much more insistent. What was it? The “raison d'être”, the purpose, just didn’t feel right. It was somehow incomplete like there was more it was trying to offer but I just couldn’t see it. As I reached into this mysterious cognizant problem, my wife passed behind me and with little more than a notice of my state of dismay, moved out of the room almost out of range and with back to me provided an offhand almost cavalier comment, “Do you know that’s upside down?”


My mandala experience is an example of perspective. There was really nothing wrong with the picture, it has its place on the wall providing aesthetic pleasure and thoughtful potential to its viewers. However, with a very natural and intuitive repositioning, it offered more without much change at all. In this digital world in two days we create as much information as we did from the beginning of time until 2003. In addition, that cycle replicates every two days. The volume of data being captured and stored is mind boggling. The emergence of the Internet of Things enables the capture of mountains of data. The data itself, though titillating to think about, is useless if there is no system to sort it and ferret out what it is telling us. Data, however, should not replace common sense or experience but is swiftly becoming an irreplaceable strategic weapon in the business world specifically.


The Tryst – Paul Bond

Most decision making models, including statistical models, have some element of intuition in them. There is a value to the human experience and capacity to think creatively about applications of varied sources of information. This is the model used by business over the centuries and has yielded a wide range of outcomes based on the human factor. Good thinkers and savvy leaders tend to make better decisions but there is no guarantee of that. Though it’s a fine art, it lacks the specificity of a science.


Today there is a quantum disruption in the decision-making process in the way massive amounts of data analysis are being used for decisions. The idea of using analytics is a disruptor that continues to facilitate change and applies different rules to old systems. Even though corporate leaders may not be data scientist the change is evident. Data analytics creates a better understanding and perception of the real world. This is driving an increasing need for perfecting the analytics of data and an expanded opportunity for innovation. As the innovation evolves we see moves toward more automation and artificial intelligence that enable an even deeper dive into the data. While the engineering of analytics is a science, there still exists the need for the art of analytics. It is the art and science working together that produce quality deliverables.


The prevalence and analyses of data implies a demand for massive cultural elements of trust. The analytics of data is different than its analysis. It is multidisciplinary and not as much concerned with individual analyses as it is with multifaceted trends. Understanding and respecting the relation between trust and privacy and the importance of the human element is paramount. Data itself means nothing. It is the value that data delivers that carries the interest. Science is predictable. Science is what we know. Art is the interpretation and application of what we know and must be preserved. Art is what defines us at our core, the differentiator. Amidst these mountain ranges of data, we must make sure that our picture is right side up.

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