11 days ago

From Data to Doing

Link: http://rvsoapbox.blogspot.com/2022/08/from-data-to-doing.html

One of the ideas running through my work on #datastrategy is to see data as a means to an end, rather than an end in itself. As someone might once have written, 

Data scientists have only interpreted the world in various ways. The point however is to change it.

Many people in the data world are focussed on collecting, processing and storing data, rendering and analysing the data in various ways, and making it available for consumption or monetization. In some instances, what passes for a data strategy is essentially a data management strategy.

I agree that this is important and necessary, but I don’t think it is enough.

I am currently reading a brilliant book by Annemarie Mol on Medical Ontology. In one chapter, she describes the uses of test data by different specialists in a hospital. The researchers in the hospital laboratory want to understand a medical condition in great detail – what causes it, how it develops, what it looks like, how to detect it and measure its progress, how it responds to various treatments in different kinds of patient. The clinicians on the other hand are primarily interested in interventions – what can we do to help this patient, what are the prospects and risks.

In the corporate world, senior managers often use data as a monitoring tool – screening the business for areas that might need intervention. Highly aggregated data can provide them with a thin but panoramic view of what is going on, but may not provide much guidance on corrective or preventative action. See my post on OrgIntelligence in the Control Room (October 2010).

Meanwhile, what if your data strategy calls for a 360 view of key data domains, such as CUSTOMER and PRODUCT. If these initiatives are to be strategically meaningful to the business, and not merely exercises in technical plumbing, they need to be closely aligned with the business strategy – for example delivering on customer centricity and/or product leadership.

In other words, it’s not enough just to have a lot of good quality data and generating a lot of analytic insight. Hence the title of my new book – How To Do Things With Data.


Annemarie Mol, The Body Multiple: Ontology in Medical Practice (Duke University Press 2002)

My book on Data Strategy is now available in beta version. https://leanpub.com/howtodothingswithdata/