love data: figures, reports, forecasts,
graphs, spreadsheets, Power points
more is better. And, as a result, many
organizations have an elaborate system
that collects & circulates data on
a regular basis. They also acquire data
from external resources for analysis &
research. But what's the proof, that all
this data is worth the effort & resources
being put in, is leading to better business
decisions? Is some of the data collection
unnecessary, perhaps even damaging by
creating complexity and confusion?
observed, in many situations, most of
the data does not add value to the decision
making or add insight into the operations,
it then leads to "Information Pollution".
Let me share my experience: For many years
the CEO of a leading industrial organisation
was religious on the monthly review process
which was highly data-intensive. The major
data was on Cost, Sales, Current enquiries
& Invoicing data for every product
sold, with break-up by business unit,
channel, geography, and consumer segment.
This data (available in excel sheets)
ran into 30-40 pages. It was produced
each month by a group of people from finance
& field sales, who had to spent hours
collecting, & sorting the data.
one really dared to question whether all
of this activity really was worth it,
although many complained about the time
required. When a new CEO came two years
back, he decided that it would be just
fine with quarterly reviews and deviation-only
reporting. Suddenly the entire data-production
system was reduced substantially
and the company worked fine (many told
me in private- more efficient)
a fact that different CEO's have different
needs for information & data. Some
want their decisions to be based on as
much hard & real time data as possible;
others may need just enough data to support
or challenge their decision; or some of
them may like combination of these.The
preference of type of data at the decision
making level has a major influence on
the "data system" that is created.
in all the situations, the management
seeking information/data should ask themselves
four critical questions about their data
system, so that the data collected adds
value to the decision making.
Does it help us look into future or history?
Most of the data collected tells how we
performed in the past its not effective
in forecasting performance. Therefore
it is important to seek data, of different
time frames, to help us get a good picture
of the future.
Is that the right question?
Many companies collect the data that is
available, rather than the data that is
required to make decisions. So it is critical
to ask right questions. Few key questions
are sufficient to get the right data you
Does it give right mix of quantitative
and qualitative data?
Quantitative nor qualitative data in isolation
cannot tell us tells the whole story.
e.g., for better product and pricing decisions,
its important to know not only what is
being sold to whom, but also why some
products are selling more than others.
Does the data tell a story?
Majority of the data comes in bits &
pieces. To make sense of it, the bits
of information needs to be put together
into a coherent explanation of the business
situation,It requires integrating data
into a "story". So its important
to know which data is required to convey
the story, that they will be required
So what's the situation in your organisation-
do you have "Information Pollution"