I’ve been around corporate environments for a couple of decades.  I’ve seen the rise of fall of various ways of presenting business information in insightful mechanisms – from the earlier days of report creating software to the cool new big data and machine learning highs.  And while I can appreciate the power of the evolution and what’s offered today, I still come back to a simple truth.  These various tools and methods of data analysis are to help people make decisions.  So whether it’s decision science, data science, data visualization or something else – all roads lead to making a decision.

After way too long, I finally realized that more views and reports wouldn’t answer anything.  Data analysis (reports, views, cubes, statistics) are just an analog (hopefully a good one) of some much more intangible event that we are trying to comprehend.  Data will tell us how many toys of a specific type were purchased and when, but data won’t tell us why the children love the toy in the first place.  All these statistical observations give us is simply a view of facts, but that’s different than an understanding of truths.

So if you are the kind of individual who is seemingly always needing one new report that will rule them all, perhaps your approximation is wrong.  Go back to basics and figure out what you want to know, and then create some models that you feel could give you those insights.  Don’t just walk into the “analytics shopping mall” hoping to find that one view that makes your decision easy and hence risk of a bad decision nil.  That isn’t likely to happen.  Data is helpful, but it never gives an answer.  It’s only a tool, not a crystal ball.

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