Archive for the ‘Data Mining’ Category

Using data for productivity and profit   Leave a comment

When thinking about how to improve your use of data in your organisation there are two important starting points.

First, reflect on the two halves of your business, not-for-profit or government body. One half is the operations side, the other is the value creation side. The focus of your operational side is how to get things done better, cheaper and faster. Improvements on the value creation side are about making what you do that is distinctive, better.

Second, consider Porter’s value chain. That set of activities you perform to turn your inputs into outputs and that set of secondary tasks that support those primary activities.

So, where does your use of data for improving productivity and profit come in?

And how do these two starting points come into the equation.

Consider your operational half using some aspects of the value chain. Do you know how efficient your input transformation process is? How much time lag is there between steps? What is the error rate? What of wastage, breakdowns, and the like? Do you have real-time-data-visibility into this aspect of your organisation?

And consider your value creation side, again using some aspects of the value chain. How good are the buyer-facing links in the chain (ie. sales, service, marketing) at asking questions and collecting data? Are you tracking usage of your goods and/or services for insights into improving your value creation activities?

For once you start collecting this data, you will be able to analyse for trends and patterns (ie. cluster analysis: groups of records, anomaly detection: unusual actions, and rule associations: dependencies) which will result in ideas to improve both your productivity and your profitability.

 
For more of what I have to offer, visit Dellium Advisory, follow on Twitter, connect using LinkedIn, review my strategy and futures-centric blog, or subscribe to my YouTube channel.

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Critical Thinking and IT   Leave a comment

Having been involved in IT for quite a number of years I have been personally across an extensive list of faults, projects and to-do lists. Where the faults have ranged all the way from printing problems on a PC to Active Directory synchronization errors across multiple global domains. Where the projects have included things like office relocations, SAN upgrades and WiFi rollouts. And where to-do lists (IT strategies) have revolved around understanding the needs of multiple stakeholders, the timing of investment decisions and the availability of resources.

And one of the critical abilities that is common to all of these is the ability to think critically.

Not in the sense of being critical about others, but the process of thought and reasoning.

I’ve seen fellow IT professionals simply content to hit refresh buttons and just go for the software re-install.

I’ve seen projects fall over because some first and second order impacts weren’t considered.

And I’ve seen action items added to strategies for no other reason than it just felt right to the sponsor.

Sigh!

So, while the following list can apply to other areas of endeavor that requires fault analysis, project management or strategic approaches, all of these aspects of critical thinking do apply to the full gamut of activities associated with information technology.

Eight principles of critical thinking:

  1. define the purpose
  2. what is the question you are wanting to answer
  3. collect information
  4. consider your inferences
  5. check your assumptions
  6. be clear about the concepts in use
  7. what exactly is your perspective
  8. what are the implications

Regarding purpose. What is the objective of that project? What is it that is really trying to be achieved?

Regarding question. How clear are you about the fault you are trying to fix? What are its symptons and underlying causes?

Regarding information. Do you have all the facts and evidence with respect to that fault? How long has it been going on, under what conditions is it triggered, and so on.

Regarding inferences. Looking at that set of strategic objectives, what interpretations and conclusions can you draw out from that body of proposed work?

Regarding assumptions. What beliefs and biases do you hold, and what beliefs and biases do you believe that others hold?

Regarding assumptions. With respect to that project, what are you taking for granted? With respect to that strategy, what are you assuming about the business?

Regarding concepts. What exactly is that idea you have about the cause of that fault? What is the theory you have about the use of that particular technology for that project?

Regarding perspective. Can you step back and see your point of view dispassionately? In the project management discussions, is your point of view valid?

Regarding implications. When you take that step to fix up the fault, what will happen? What is likely to occur as you execute that strategy?

The ability to think critically is increasingly important. Do you take the time and effort to apply any or all of these eight aspects of thought and reasoning to the tasks at hand?

 
For more of what I have to offer, visit Dellium Advisory, follow on Twitter, connect using LinkedIn, or review my strategy and futures-centric blog.

How wise is your organisation?   Leave a comment

If wisdom can be defined as knowledge in action, on what are you basing your actions? How thorough, even relevant, is the knowledge you have?

How well do you know your markets, your employees and your competitors? How well do you know the systems in place in your business or not-for-profit? Do you know their efficiency or their effectiveness? Are you relying upon gut feel, what people are telling you, or do you have empirical evidence to back things up?

For the better knowledge you have, the better decisions you will make. All leading to a reputation of wisdom.

Where you are known for making right judgements.

And in this information-rich milieu, where the cost of collecting and analysing that information is forever falling, the question is – are you taking advantage of your data resources?

Are you, if you will, fully exploiting the “low-hanging data fruit” in your organisation?

Let’s say you are manufacturing widgets. Let’s assume that a rich stream of data is available from each point in that transformation process, surely the cost of storing that data is negligible! And what about the calculations on that data? Think of the improvements that could be made by looking at the relationships between the data streams from various points in the transformation process.

Let’s say you are dealing with information. Let’s assume that what is produced, ie reports/recommendations/decisions is dependent upon other sources of information. How easy is it to find the right data in those other sources of information? Surely the cost of automatically extracting that data is much less than the manual cost of extracting it? Think of the quality improvements that would flow into that set of reports/recommendations/decisions.

With the manufacturing industry example, the low-hanging data fruit is process efficiency. With the service industry example, the low-hanging data fruit is also process efficiency. The former is data collection that leads to performance improvement. With the latter, its data presentation that leads to performance improvement. And where the resulting knowledge from performance improvement leads to wiser outcomes.

The key point here is that we must reframe our approach to information. We must think critically about how we use the data we have.

For judgements that are more right will follow.

 

For more of what I have to offer, visit Dellium Advisory, follow on Twitter, connect using LinkedIn, or review my strategy and futures-centric blog.

What do we do with all of this data?   Leave a comment

At the recent CES, the “Internet of Things” (IoT) was all the rage. With internet connected sensors, miniature computers, appliances, and more being touted as the best thing to get a hold of. It seems that we will be flooded with data.

And what about our personal tech? Think wearables and biometric data. From a third party perspective, think about the mass of heart rate, step, cadence and calorie data that is now available.

And then there is all that data available from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Data concerning our preferences, our connections, our habits.

Where will this lead?

What is the point of having this surfeit of data?

Where will this abundance take us to.

Well, one view is that all this data is but the foundation of the DIKW pyramid.

  1. Data
  2. Information
  3. Knowledge
  4. Wisdom

We have all of this data. But from data we derive information. That is, we can describe sets of data using terms and language with which we are familiar. For example, the data we read from a mass of temperature sensors leads us to describing how hot or cold the day feels. Then from this information, we derive knowledge. Knowledge, in the case of information derived from temperature sensors, about what we should wear. That is, how we should react to the information we receive.

And then finally wisdom. Knowledge in action. Judgement about choosing between courses of action.

So, the question is, will we use this abundance of data for making right decisions? Will the data collected from say these “Internet of Things” devices lead to providing ethical solutions to intractable problems? Will the data collected from personal tech lead to an improvement in, for example, mortality rates? Will the use of data that social media platforms collect lead to better societies and communities around the globe?

For more, visit Dellium Advisory, follow on Twitter, connect using LinkedIn, or review my strategy and futures-centric blog.

Is your Data an Asset?   Leave a comment

Think about the all the data you have in your organisation.

For a business there is customer data, sales data, advertising information and personnel files. For not-for-profits there are donor registers, volunteer lists and information about those you support.

How do you view that information? Do you treat it as an asset worth protecting? Do you see it as a resource for operating more effectively?

If you view your information as an asset, do you treat that asset like you treat other assets? With the protection of insurance and with the care of regular maintenance?

For viewing data as an asset, this insurance comes in the form of information security. That your data is protected from unauthorised access, copying, destruction, disclosure, disruption, modification and use. Its kept safe, its backed up and it available to who it should be available to.

For viewing data as a resource, its use comes in the form as data mining. Its where your data is analysed for trends and patterns. For the discovering of knowledge. For its through techniques such as cluster analysis (looking at groups of records), anomaly detection (unusual actions) and rule association (dependencies) that new knowledge can come to light. And from that knowledge, operational effectiveness or strategic responsiveness can be improved.

 
For more, visit Dellium Advisory, follow on Twitter, connect using LinkedIn, or review my strategy and futures-centric blog.

Posted July 17, 2014 by terop in Data Mining, ICT Strategy, Information Security