H.I.P.P.O or How decisions are made without data

Hippo with glasses  cartoonOne 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.

Yours Always

Ginger Grant

Data aficionado et SQL Raconteur

Upcoming and Up and Coming Topics

It’s funny the different meanings words have when you put them in different order, a point which anyone who has imitated the dialectic of Yoda can tell you. I find words fascinating as they are not static but have meanings which change over time. For example the Iron Maiden meant something totally different before there were electric guitars. Thinking of works and things changing, as one year closes and another year begins, I start to evaluate past and future topics. Earlier this year, I held an informal poll on twitter to find out how long people tend to talk on the same topic. The answers were quite varied. Some people keep on talking about the same topic as long as there seems to be interest in hearing about it. That way you can get to be a really good speaker on that topic. Another feels obligated to create a new topic each time out to provide him a challenge. The answer that personally I related to, was keep on talking about the topic until you are tired of hearing about it, which takes about a year.

SQL Saturday Albuquerque

sqlsat358_ABQMy first upcoming engagement for 2015 will be as SQL Server Albuquerque where I will be talking about SSIS. I generally talk about things I am interested in or presently working on, and having working on a lot of ETL recently, I thought that it would be an interesting topic which I think most people would find helpful. As a consultant, I see a lot of code and wonder why parts of it were written that way. One big reason is someone thought the design was a good one. Since that is an objective decision, I thought it might be helpful to clarify design decisions with facts so that that people would be able to employ good logic for their design decisions.

Technology changes and their Impact on Data Development

Another topic which really interests me is the changes that new technologies are having on the database world. With the increased implementation of Hadoop and cloud things are really changing in the way data is being both stored and used. Predictive Analytics, Machine Learning, Cloud implementations, Interactive Data visualizations are changing what people are expecting from the way their data is stored and used. Expectations for data professionals are increasing as the business is looking away from HIPPO and towards the knowledge that they have gathered or integrated data from public sources.

Modern Data Warehouse

I have the pleasure of assisting in a day-long session to talk about Architecting the Modern Data Warehouse . During this one day session we will be showing how to use new technology such as HD Insight and Machine Learning to implement a modern data warehouse. Instead of just talking about new technologies we will be putting them to use to show how they can be used today. I’m really looking forward to it.

If you are able to attend any of these or any upcoming sessions, please stop by and introduce yourself as I would love to meet readers of my blog in person.

Yours Always

Ginger Grant

Data aficionado et SQL Raconteur