Opening Keynotes at Data Summit Connect 2021 Explore What It Means to Become Data-Driven

At Data Summit Connect 2021, presented by DBTA and Big Data Quarterly, opening keynotes explored what it means to be data-driven and how to effectively present data to users so it can be truly useful.

Joe W. Perez, senior systems analyst, North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services, kicked off the keynote session with a presentation on the value of making data available to users in forms that make it understandable and actionable. Chuck Frisbie, field CTO, Sisense, also delivered a keynote on data and analytics strategies at Data Summit Connect.

In his presentation, titled “The Beauty and Brains of Data Storytelling: From Concept to Reality,” Perez considered the five "Stages of the Spectrum" for presenting data and making it actionable, and the importance of a blend of art and science—or beauty and brains.

Quoting Techopedia, Perez described actionable data as “information that can be acted upon or information that gives enough insight into the future, that the actions should be taken become clear for decision makers.” The story-telling journey should end with actionable information, said Perez. The journey starts with conception, moves on to inception, then perception, followed by inspection, and finally, direction, Perez said.

You need to know your audience, know your data—who is consuming the data and why, and determine the type of visualization you need and what you want to show. “Visual communication affects us cognitively and emotionally,” said Perez, who offered examples of various data visualizations that excelled versus others that were ineffective and outright misleading.

According to Perez, the five stages are:

1-Conception: Make the case and articulate what you want.

2-Inception: Make the case, advocate and start pushing.

3-Perception: Motivate the base, educate people so they take ownership and share information. They cannot support what they do not understand. Remember, if someone has to explain it to you, it’s not actionable, said Perez.

4-Inspection: Does it stand up to scrutiny” Ensuring total transparency guards against bias and unethical data use. If you investigate early on you will be able to address questions about your data and representations within your organization such as: did you ensure data quality, where did you get your data, how do you know it is right?

5-Direction: Put it in place, effectuate, turn data ideas into reality by making data actionable.

In the second presentation of the session, Frisbie delivered a keynote on “The Dashboard Paradox: Breaking the Adoption Barrier with Infused Insights.”

While many organizations have progressed from relying on static reports generated by IT teams to using some version of a self-service model, most still struggle to reap the long-promised benefits. Unfortunately, each evolution has delivered only incremental improvements over the last wave of analytics, leaving the biggest problems half-solved, and data assets underleveraged.

Citing Gartner data, Frisbie said, “By 2022, 90% of corporate data strategies will explicitly mention information as a critical enterprise asset and analytics as an essential competency.” Frisbie then covered the importance of “analytics infusion” in helping to create better employee and customer experiences.

In many organizations, there is a mindset in which they believe that a data-driven culture can be achieved solely through the perfection of  dashboards and analytics. There is often a failure to acknowledge the human component of an analytical workflow. By contrast, "data infusion" requires a human focus and involves infusing insights and actions through workflows. “We see infusion as the ability to take any workflow for any person in an organization and augment it with data to make it faster and smarter.”

Most organizations are still not “data-driven” although that goal is frequently expressed. To reach that objective, Frisbie urged attendees to think beyond the dashboard. He said they should improve their data strategies to help users get more out of data by infusing analytics to not just meet, but exceed, tough business objectives. What is critical and frequently forgotten is the human component, emphasized Frisbie, who noted that dashboards are not for everyone, and most people need the right insights at the right time to use data successfully.

More information about Data Summit Connect 2021 is available here.

Replays of the presentations by Perez (“Beauty and Brains of Data Storytelling: From Concept to Reality”) and Frisbie  (“The Dashboard Paradox: Breaking the Adoption Barrier with Infused Insights”) and all Data Summit Connect 2021 sessions are available to registered attendees for a limited time. Many presenters are also making their slide decks available.