Getting out of the situation outlined in the last entry and starting to take control needs two things. Firstly, it needs consolidation of data, and we shall examine this requirement more closely in the very near future; and secondly, we need good tools to allow us to interpret this data. In fact, when we can deploy different classes of tool against the same consolidated set of detailed data, we can move quickly in the information stakes.
In order to build on this idea we need first to understand the nature of decision-making in terms of technology and data.
Decision-making can never be driven by data (or facts) alone. Human intuition, gut feeling and experience augment the facts in key decision synthesis.
If we review the business questions posed previously we will quickly realise that ‘decision support’, as we shall call it, is not as trivial as we might think. Some of the questions refer to the interpretation of things that have already happened. Some refer to things that might happen in the future, and some need information that invariably does not exist. Making this task even more daunting is the fact that the underlying data is often dispersed to the four winds and in a format that makes it impossible to bring together. On top of even this complexity, however, we must overlay the fact that the time allowed between the formulation of the business question and the deadline for the answer is decreasing all the time.
In terms of the general decision process, we can see the end-to-end process in five stages:
Something of interest happens …
Stage 1: Capture the data.
Stage 2: Analyse the data, ask questions and get answers.
Stage 3: Define a strategy to exploit the happening.
Stage 4: Execute the strategy.
Stage 5: Measure the effect.
Life goes on.