One of the reasons that I enjoy working with data, and especially the new analytical models is because when you have lots of data, you can analyze it to make decisions which may go against many misconceived preconceptions. One of the data projects I worked on in the past, gathered all of the call center data from the phone switches and matched it against the number of payments received from the people who were called. When the results were analyzed, the business chose to make different decisions than they had in the past. Previously the call centers were evaluated by the number of calls made, not what happened when someone was called. As a result in the change of the evaluation methodology, some call centers were closed, some managers were promoted, and other managers were fired. Absent data, decisions are made which can be called into question.
Decisions made without Data are really H.I.P.P.O.
In absence of having any data, decisions are often made using the H.I.P.P.O method, which stands for HIghest Paid Person’s Opinion. When data is gathered and displayed in a transparent manner, the managers knew they were underperforming and knew the consequences and were highly motivated to improve. HR felt confident that the reasons for letting people go were not going to be challenged, so they felt free to act as well.
Data Removes Ambiguity in the Decision Process
There are many examples where providing accurate clear data removes the questions people have regarding decisions. One other example which comes to mind was the question regarding the selection of speakers at the upcoming PASS Summit. As a disclaimer, I did not submit, so I was not surprised when I was not selected. PASS released the speaker feedback providing the data people needed to understand the criteria for acceptance. Gathering data and developing systems to accurately display it isn’t just a task undertaken because people like the technology, it is the method where transparency and decision making can be undertaken. So next time you are asked to create a report think about what you are really doing. It’s not an exercise in SSRS, you are providing tools which allow decisions to be made based on facts, not HIPPOs.
Data aficionado et SQL Raconteur