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    How Is Data-Driven Decision Making Changing The Way In Which Decisions Are Being Made?


    P JAYANT

    Have you ever attended school? Well, I did and it’s laden with bitter-sweet memories. Sweet because it was that one time where I had this amazing thing called “Work-Life†Balance. Back then,, I had never heard about such a word although I had it in my life. And by the time I came to know about it, it was nowhere to be found in my life. What an irony!

    Bitter were those memories where there used to be a peculiar event called “Parent-Teacher Meetingâ€. The good kids were appreciated, the bad ones were reprimanded. And what was the key metric that they used for this? Marks! “Did you see your son’s marks? How pathetic. He is not at all attentive in class and his marks shows. Your daughter is amazing. You don’t need to worry about her. Her marks are excellent. She will make you a proud parent indeed.â€

    The point I am trying to impress upon you is the fact that data-driven decision making isn’t something of a recent origin. It has been there since ages. Why did Copernicus come up with the theory that earth revolved round the sun? How did America get discovered by the Columbus? Because these people relied on numbers and calculations, based on hard facts and not on what popular opinion lay at that time. Why did Vasco-Da-Gama travel all the way to India? Because he believed in data which showed that India was a spice rich country. Why were more and more spies sent behind enemy lines during World-Wars? Data, data, data.

     

    Today’s world is no less competitive either. Business leaders are in a continuous battle trying to improve their topline, bottomline and also keep employees satisfied. Data holds the key unlock all of these questions. Data analytics can give an insight into patters which may or may not be easily visible. For instance, a firm that grows at 5% as compared to last year in a market that’s expanding at 10% is losing market share. Although a casual observation might show that topline and bottomline has gained, only a rigorous analysis done on the industry reports can give the whole picture. Similarly, a yearlong research and analysis by Harvard Business Review on the industries that did well during recession brought forth some key insights into the focus areas which could help the leaders of companies perform better in the future.

     

    Such data driven analytics helps in better understanding of the situations and allows for more informed decision making. Another recent study on the internet usage in India showed that access to internet via mobile phones was at 62.5% as compared to 37.5% for desktop. Such data analytics helped Google in understanding where its future lay. And the recent ad on Indo-Pak friendship clearly depicted how google search on mobile could take care of the requirements of the users.

     

    It’s not just Technology companies that such analytics. In fact, recently at a company event in San Francisco, Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE talked about how analytics is the “next holy grailâ€. He also talked about how such analytics was helping in cutting down “unplanned downtime†for its customers. Such data driven decision making not only helps you in making better informed decisions, it also helps in making those decisions faster.

     

    In today’s fast paced world, waiting for the quarterly/annual financial reports and then taking decisions is not the correct way of running a business anymore. What we need today is real-time decision making that‘s dependent on strong analytical foundations. These changing trends could also give you a headstart in future businesses. The changing trends that brought about the fall of Kodak, Nokia could have been averted had they seen the changing trends. The next big trends are in E-cigarettes, LED lightning, 3-D printing which are all gaining momentum. And being able to tap into these and many such areas at the right time, at the right place allows a firm to outgrow its competitors. Such understanding and insights of the future trends could only be gained and developed by data driven analytics.

     

    To sum it up, Data Analytics is very important tool that’s available with the decision makers who can tap into the vast amounts of data that's on the internet and analyse them, ask the right questions to understand where they can improve on their existing operations and where to invest their future into.

     

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    Hi Jayant, 


     


    This is a good article and seems absolutely on track from start till end. If we look at the "how" in addition to the "why", there are several challenges. 


     


    There are so many cases where right data was used but the inferences were wrong. Here is a link that highlights some examples - http://www.datavis.ca/gallery/missed.php Most business leaders do not know how to find the right sample size for carrying out a hypothesis test and end up concluding incorrectly. Many organizations rely on external statisticians who draw conclusions which may be right but carry little business value.


     


    There are other kinds of practical risks of promoting this approach. In a country like India - Researchers, Scientists, Artists, Designers, Chefs and the like tend to hide more than they share. At many occasions, they provide incorrect or incomplete information to others for the sake of job security. 


     


    The question is this - If you wish to promote the right way of collecting and using data, what steps would you recommend for an organization? What could be the initial steps and what could be some of the simpler tools to use in the beginning? Who should be learning and using these methods initially? 


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