Voice of Data: Data has always existed, the key is the right data

Giorgos Psistakis

What does the Library of Alexandria, The Normans, and a book have to do with data? I never thought about

The Library

at Alexandria was in charge of collecting all the world’s knowledge, and most of the staff was occupied with the task of translating works onto papyrus paper… 1

Or The Normans and the…

Domesday Book (Latin: Liber de Wintonia “Book of Winchester”) is a manuscript record of the “Great Survey” of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086 by order of King William the Conqueror.2

…as two “data” examples.

In my recent discussion with Carl Statham, he said to me: “The Doomsday Book is the first “big data solution” in Britain. Though, the very first “big data solution” I know, is the Library in Alexandria enabled by moving from stone tablets to papyrus paper. The lesson from the “silly” examples, is that data has always existed, the key is the right data. Digital data is just another evolution.

After that, I was sure that I had to hear more. Luckily, he was kind enough to give his personal view and opinion on where the Digital Data and Information Technology are going. Carl is Director of Digital Transformation at CGI. His earlier experience at Enterprise Data and Business Intelligence solutions was from HP and IBM.

Information Technology & Data

From the span of years of experience, Carl believes that data and information is what matters. Technology is just an enabler.

Carl: Information Technology. The real clue is in the first word. I could not care less about technology, whilst it is amazing I am only interested in the information it provides from the data it holds and processes.”

…and how true. But we are in the age of information overload. Data from email, from mobile from social media, from devices. Stuff are happening, stuff are changing every minute. We generate more than we can handle.

Carl: “We are digitizing more and more of our information which means we can process more data to provide more insights on that information. In reality capability of technology has outstripped our speed to exploit it’s potential. Also exploiting it is not cheap.”

60 seconds on the internet

Source: DOMO3

So how is the industry changing?

Carl believes that the answer is in the cloud platforms. Although there are big players like HP, IBM or SAS in the market. The real change will come by the cloud-based analytical apps, i.e. fraud analysis apps, revenue management or churn apps.

Carl: “…But if you are a business person you could not give a damn about the platform, other than it is cheap and available, what you care about is an insight you can action.”

Data, Big Data, Big pile of messy data

People are looking for answers in their data. Sometimes overwhelmed by the sear size of it. A lot of times they are looking for an unknown pattern like a needle in the haystack.

Carl: “It is the other way around. Define the business goals, map that to your business processes and then define the information you need to influence those. Then you need the data that makes up that data. Either that or you are looking at hypothesis and looking for unknown patterns in that data…”

Enter Data science… Data scientists are the people who uncover these patterns, may find fraud, or possible new markets or criminal activities.

What challenges do you see today and in the future?

Carl: “The main challenge for businesses is to ignore IT but still get an IT solution. The vendor market is full of people providing amazing answers for all your needs. When in fact they are just talking technology. The Normans in 1087 found a way of sifting through big piles of messy data, so technology is not necessarily the answer, just an enabler.”

Are you an advocate of work/life balance?

My last question to Carl was about work/life balance and how he balances both. His answer was plain awesomeness.

Carl: ” We need to stop discussing balances. We need to talk about blending work with our lives or vice versa. Mobilization and the wonderful world of digital communication has meant we are always present. Blending work and life together causes complexity but also delivers flexibility.”

References & Further Reading: