Data Evolution: Arriving at Action

DATA: Facts & Statistics

What is data and why would I want it?

I remember learning the secret of what “data” means and being very unimpressed with what I learned. I was in a business information systems class when the teacher put this definition up on the board:

Da•ta noun: 1. Facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis.

My teacher then went on to confuse me by saying data is useless. Well, it took me a while to care enough to figure out why data is useless, but I get it now: You don’t want data; you want information.

INFORMATION: Data with Context

Information is data with context. Context, in this case, means clarifying elements like date, time, location, etc. These bits of contextual reference change data into information. What my teacher said makes sense, then—who would want data when they can have information!

But there’s still such a thing as “information overload” (turns out it’s not actually all that helpful to go from “too much data” to “too much contextual data”). Even once we’ve transformed our piles of data into piles of information, we still can’t make decisions. We still can’t act!

BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE: Information Organized

The next evolution arose from this inability to make decisions. Business Intelligence (BI) is the industry’s attempt to manage the information overload. BI systems are designed to process huge amounts of information in a way that helps get you closer to a decision.

When I think of a BI system, I envision a bunch of technicians in lab coats working around a giant machine (think Wizard of Oz). Despite the fact that these technicians are neatly organizing your information, the main problem persists:

You aren’t being led to a final decision! You are still only being shown a more refined form of data. Why? Because the people researching the questions are not the people who need the answers. The disconnect between the researcher and the end user is the problem.

To get to the solution, it takes one more evolutionary step. The person with the question must be empowered to find answers, make decisions, and act!


Actionable Intelligence (AI) is the distillation of complex Business Intelligence down into its salient pieces. For a store manager or a call center manager, this translates to direct and predictive recommendations about specific problems.

Mindshare’s Local Dashboard (Coach™) is an example of an AI system for your people at the point of service (customer service representatives). Wherever the rubber meets the road—that’s where AI excels. Give the right information at the right time, in a format that can be acted on by the person who can make a difference. That’s what Actionable Intelligence is all about.

Mindshare Technologies works with various predictive technologies that can manipulate huge amounts of Business Intelligence, distill it, and distribute it as Actionable Intelligence. Check it out!

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