The broken pyramid. Or the hungry hungry hippos game.

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I already heard this story too many times: why do I need to hire analysts if we can build awesome dashboards with this amazing-and-expensive tool? With this mindset, your company will start to play the hungry hungry hippos game.

Ask not, what your data can do for you. Ask what, you can do for your data. When managers delegate the responsibility of analyzing and interpreting data to each department or stakeholder, each one of those transforms into a hungry hungry hippo, trying to catch for themselves all the possible amount of data without contemplating the full landscape, or even fighting against other departments for the insights, data, and information. Furthermore, when managers consider that a Business Intelligence department does not need to go beyond reports and dashboards, they are automatically delegating the responsibility of data interpretation on possibly non-expert eyes or heavily-biased eyes.

In other words, they are breaking the following pyramid into two pieces:

Furthermore, by thinking that having a possibly-very-expensive reporting or BI tool (Qlikview, Tableau, Pentaho, Business Objects, etc.) is enough, they just ignore the real power of data. Who is going to make unbiased predictions? Who is going to play the devil’s advocate role? Nobody. Data analysis is much more than gathering, charting, and reporting data. Is about asking the right questions and try to foresee the answers by means of data. Tools are necessary. And expert eyes heavily trained on read them and challenging them is also a must-have.

The analyst role is not only about try to find what data can tell. It’s about being continuously challenging the status quo and try to make things to work different. And this sentence applies in the two most-common scenarios: either to turn around a dangerous situation, or either to leverage and boost business opportunities. For this, the analyst should be able to speak business language. Reports, charts, and data sets don’t speak it. Predictions and actions, together, do.

Don’t let your company become a hungry hungry hippo. Make predictions. Test. Innovate. Don’t think analysis is just reporting. Invest on people and tools. But always have in mind that tools are just a small part of the road. Analyst will walk the rest.

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