The consumability of data is as important as the data itself

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That data must be accessible and reliable is already well understood. Companies with a culture built around data-driven decision making rely on the speed and accuracy of their information to make confident choices. But the form that data takes is equally important. Information must be packaged and delivered in a way that makes it easy to consume and share if people are expected to comprehend its importance and take appropriate action.

Many organizations create huge amounts of data, look at just a piece of it and interpret and act on that piece imperfectly. Different teams measure different things differently, with different tools—and then treat their data as proprietary. Some systems require trained personnel to access the data. And when that data is extracted, it is presented using 20-page reports that would have been more effective as three graphs.

The challenge is not to increase the quantity of data. It is to find the essential information hidden in the data, distill it and make it easy to understand and act on.


Orbitz Worldwide

“The real breakthrough moment was when we did some simple math: for every hour of downtime, or every minute of downtime, this is what it’s worth. And the moment we talked in terms of hundreds of thousands of dollars, it got everyone’s attention; both the developers and the business leaders.”


Alejandro Valenzuela

Grupo Financiero Banorte

“We’re working on building a Big Data repository and converting old-time data into intelligence.”


Tariq Shaukat

Caesars Entertainment

“It’s not just having the data that’s important; it’s what you do with it.”

Kristin Russell

State of Colorado

“We all hear about the power of big data, but it’s not having loads and loads of data that’s important. The data needs to be usable, intelligent and relevant. Only then can it help us make better decisions.”

Ann Winblad

Hummer Winblad Venture Partners

“Can the marketplace really absorb all that data?..That’s the on-ramp we’re on now to this predictive analytics world. We’re not quite there yet, but the skilled and innovative CFOs, CMOs will get us there. Everybody will get there over the next 10 years, but who will be first?”

Samir Mahir

Tennis Australia

“I guess I’d say that I’ve learned the value of communicating complex ideas simply. That goes both ways, of course. Our close collaboration has pushed other departments to communicate a lot more simply and clearly with us, too.”


Toshiaki Shimizu


“We have nearly one billion page views a month, so we needed a system that could scale and handle massive amounts of data and analyze access logs and purchase data to gather exact information on daily changes in customer behavior…We use this knowledge to create personalized one-to-one e-mail promotions to drive more sales.”

Brett Goldstein

Formerly of the City of Chicago

“What we’re doing is as data-driven as you’re going to get in municipal government. It’s cutting edge. But it’s coming down in a way that’s completely usable.”

Peggy Dyer

American Red Cross

“We need someone to be the data champion for the enterprise. Our CIO was the first to say that it shouldn’t be an IT position; it should reside in the business unit as a way for us to articulate what our data needs are and how data will be used.”

Dr. Andrew Keller

Danbury Hospital

“Most people can’t define the difference between mean and median, can’t account for variance or random noise…It’s a challenge to find people who have a strong business sense and who also understand biostatistics…So the data is really important, but how do you analyze it?”

Mind Candy

“Some members of my team can analyze data and also convey its importance to others within the organization who may lack that analytical understanding. That’s a rare skill. That’s empathetic. That’s far from a back-office function.”

John Rogers

J Sainsbury plc

“We’re trying to streamline this data flow. And we’re doing that by asking managers: what is the precise question you’d like answered? Focusing on that question, rather than on the task of generating yet another new report, creates an operational discipline.”

William Gerber

TD Ameritrade

“In our world, the data itself is not enough. You have to tell the story. You have to make the data meaningful. Just having raw data and spreadsheets without answering the question of “what does it mean?” is not helpful.”

Kate Mitchell

Scale Venture Partners

“It’s vitally important to consolidate the information you’re gathering to make it easy to digest so it can be used to make better-informed decisions.”


“We’re also training our financial staff to communicate complex financial information to non-financial people in ways they’ll understand. Don’t scare them with numbers or make them feel foolish because they don’t understand financial jargon.”

Mark Buthman

Kimberly-Clark Corporation

“My vision for our organization is to have the right information on the desktop for all of our decision makers, so they can make a quality decision when they need to make it.”

Fernando González


“Our goal is to simplify the way in which all this data is collected and presented, so that we translate it into actionable information to help us transform CEMEX into an increasingly competitive company.”

Peter Cole

Marriott International

“We’ve created dashboards or scorecards that shows us select, meaningful information about the business — customer satisfaction data, for example, or employee satisfaction data or revenue performance or profitability performance.”

Michael Oldham

University of California, San Francisco

“A lot of data sets are so multidimensional that they’re very hard to summarize…I

try to explain things intuitively. Another way to do this is visually, through pithy, meaningful graphics and tables that

distill large data sets into forms that people of all backgrounds can digest.”


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