Business intelligence, a tale: MEASURE EVERYTHING + BECAUSE YOU DO IT ANYWAY?

Analytics StrategyBuilt upon measurement is our world. But denial of numbers is the norm when it is time to ‘be ourselves’ again. Things added and multiplied and subtracted are not as pleasant as just things, without the meta-information. It is the human against the digital, the instinctive negotiator against the business intelligence, the ‘flow’ against the strategic thinking.

Escape being sought, truth is the chain is never broken, because it will never be, it just can’t. Chained to the dull universe of numbers, where things are not just things but ‘meta-things’, our brave heart begins to pursue a balance in between the two. Balance being unique to each of us, it is never a 50/50 ratio, but something that gives comfort and ultimately has to give a sense that ‘pleasure’ will always be on the winning side. Why can’t these pompous expressions of strategic thinking and business intelligence move to the ‘fun’ side? or even, why can’t it all just be one and the same? are we not built this way? are we supreme beings of leisure struggling to get numbers out of the way? is God (and Google) the only one who should enjoy a huge celestial database and analytics interface as he works on product development (us, and all things) and decision making?

Marketing ResearchResearch being fun (yes, it is), we went out on the streets to understand this ‘balance’ under the view of a random sample of 300 people in the beautiful sin city of Las Vegas, viva Las Vegas! We parted onto The Strip not to gamble (this time), but on the quest to understand how ‘analytical’ versus ‘natural’ people are (or think they are), and in what circumstances this ‘balance’ will change. Deep experiments were not performed this time, unlike the great Dan Ariely does so well. Instead, we made a simple (but creative) set of questions and let the people speak for themselves (a risk?).

Objective was to picture and understand a piece of  ‘the wall’ dividing ‘pain & pleasure’ related to the ‘analytical vs. natural’, to then, later, find ways of breaking it all. The belief that data based decisions should be more fun drives us here, and this is but a drop on the ocean of thought about data integration and accessibility.

Business Intelligence SecretThis is important because in most cases the barrier created by ourselves over certain disciplines is what will limit our understanding and performance. Will keep us from being brilliant and innovative and hold us down into ‘sameness’. It is not the discipline itself, but what we think it is, that will scare us away from learning and mastering its use. Once, a great Math professor of mine Mr. Celso Deliberato, helping me go through a few ‘abstract’ exercises (I always need to understand a reason for things), told me to “first, never again say that you hate math, or that you even dislike it, nothing, not to others and much less to yourself, the more you think you hate it, the harder it will be to learn, less open to it you will be, and much less fun with it you will have.” This advice alone changed many things for me as I applied it to everything else besides Math.

Dirty WordsAnalytics, and other dirty words, are so closely related (or are they?) to being complicated, tiresome, boring and with a steep learning curve, that the great majority of people I know avoid as much of it as possible. Even when driving their own businesses, I hear less pride when they mention data based decisions than when they are “trusting their instinct and nailing it because they’re that good…”. Point is, this article is not about my opinion, but my personal stats-based curiosity contributed for the creation of the research performed and presented here. I am sure you have many of these thoughts within you (you do), that are not validated by data but you have them so clear somewhere inside (for some reason) that they become part of your animal instinct, don’t you? (admit it).

Marketing Research startGET OUT THE DOOR AND MEASURE EVERYTHING – they told me once, and it was harsher than a sentence in CAPS at the time. But I did it (it was a startup event), approached strangers who saw me as a Martian, or as a “who the hell would approach me and pull me off of my boring routine?” kind of guy. But I did it, and began loosing a bit of that fear. Believe me, curiosity fed can be addictive.

Don’t we do it anyway? I thought later. Don’t we instinctively try to measure everything all the time somehow? Maybe we don’t register the results in a spreadsheet, or even in a clear way which is consciously comparable and actionable when related to everything else, but we are always saving and measuring everything around us. While this is matter for a future discussion, sleep related studies show beings (mice), repeating their daily activities in their minds during sleep, maybe to make instinctive what was once a new experience?

Where I am going here is that I believe it is natural to measure everything and all our decisions are data based independent of us wanting them to be or not. Call it strategic thinking, business intelligence, or just plain human intelligence, the digital revolution is the externalisation of what was always there inside us. It can be seen as a new form of unification for the human kind and of individuals connecting more with the world around them (but this is again matter for future chats).


Business Intelligence Research


Results into consideration, we seem hopeless on bringing the analytical tools into the everyday pleasure side of life. It is part of the job, the duty, but doesn’t seem to make any connection with good emotions. Not directly. Business intelligence, however, is a field of study that must take into consideration this “human” side of what happens in the world. And it does. But when not connecting to our own ‘human side’ while at it, and taking the “intelligence” in business intelligence purely ‘mechanically’, as a duty alone, we will most likely keep our minds from reaching the enlightened state of innovative thinking. Sure that the best data analysts out there will look for unusual patterns to build insights upon, but most of us not in that position are possibly much more into the obvious conclusions than a path leading us, surprisingly, to an unexpected ‘real truth’ (which could make us a profit? have us nail that ideal life we crave for?).

Digital MindThoughts on the table. Debate in the air. How can data be more fun? how can more people benefit from data-based decision making? There are many trends answering these questions, many new technology products finding ways of making the use of data more fun. Business intelligence can be just an expression. It can mean being open into finding the best solutions, insights from data, confident decision making, innovative strategy applications, and so much more. Sure there are structures in place behind the term already, and depending on who you are having this conversation with, business intelligence can be a mega-server cloud, or having music and aromas inside a retail space. What I hope on sparking, though, is the interest in making more and better use of data. And possibly, if we break barriers and have more fun with it, it will return interesting insights, open ‘doors’ and paths we had not considered before.



Alex Gonçalves

Born some time ago, close to the sea and a huge statue of Christ upon a mountain, in explainable ways yours truly has built a love for the understanding of the world around us. This constant 'groove' of curiosity has branched in a love for all things business and marketing related, touching into the arts and a lot of what happens in between.