#27: Here’s a thought…

December 13, 2009
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An occasional series in which a review of recent posts on SmartData Collective reveals the following nuggets:

Let the data profiling begin
Data profiling is typically one of the first tasks performed on a data quality initiative. I am often told to delay data profiling until business requirements are documented and subject matter experts are available to answer my questions. I always disagree – and begin data profiling as soon as possible. I can do a better job of evaluating business requirements and preparing for meetings with subject matter experts after I have spent some time looking at data from a starting point of blissful ignorance and curiosity. Ultimately, I believe the goal of data profiling is to not to find answers, but instead, to discover the right questions.


It ain’t no finishing touch

“SEO” (Search Engine Optimization) is a term widely used to mean “getting users to your site via organic search traffic.” I don’t like the term at all. For one thing, it’s been frequently associated with illicit techniques like link trading and search engine spamming. It is also associated with consultants who don’t do



An occasional series in which a review of recent posts on SmartData Collective reveals the following nuggets:

Let the data profiling begin
Data profiling is typically one of the first tasks performed on a data quality initiative. I am often told to delay data profiling until business requirements are documented and subject matter experts are available to answer my questions. I always disagree – and begin data profiling as soon as possible. I can do a better job of evaluating business requirements and preparing for meetings with subject matter experts after I have spent some time looking at data from a starting point of blissful ignorance and curiosity. Ultimately, I believe the goal of data profiling is to not to find answers, but instead, to discover the right questions.


It ain’t no finishing touch

“SEO” (Search Engine Optimization) is a term widely used to mean “getting users to your site via organic search traffic.” I don’t like the term at all. For one thing, it’s been frequently associated with illicit techniques like link trading and search engine spamming. It is also associated with consultants who don’t do much beyond very basic stuff your own developers should be able to do. But the most pernicious aspect to the phrase is that the word “optimization” suggests that SEO is a finishing touch, something you bolt on, instead of central to the design and development of your site. Unfortunately, I think the term is so widespread that we are stuck with it.

—Chris Dixon: Some thoughts on SEO

The new consumer
To be sure, the results of the survey—at least for Americans—present a new prototypical consumer who is less trusting, a bit more conscious of his or her finances, and one that is getting “back to basics.” Whether we are permanently in a new paradigm—or not—these statistics paint a new reality that marketers must take into account. Most companies have accepted this new reality and are baking marketing strategies accordingly. But many company executives anxiously sit on the sideline, hoping that market conditions get “back to normal” so they can raise prices, increase capacity and worry less about operational efficiencies.

Leveraging human computation—maybe
Data quality is a major bottleneck for effectively delivering an exploratory search experience, and data quantity, much as it helps, is not a guarantee of quality. Richer interfaces offer the enticing possibility of leveraging human computation, but they also introduce the risk of disappointing and alienating users. Even for an HCIR zealot like me, the constraints of reality are sobering.


Be careful of leading

Many clients believe that no consultant is going to tell them how to run their candy store. Attempting to lead and influence the outcome of a project, engagement, or strategy is an exercise in futility. Add to the fray a bad economy and a related lack of consulting work. All of these factors make it ill-advised for consultants to truly exhibit leadership in these circumstances.

The data buck stops here
When a system creates data, and when that data leaves that system, the data should be checked and corrected. Bad data should be viewed as a hazardous material that should not be transported. The moment you generate data, you have the implicit responsibility to establish its accuracy and integrity.  Distributing good data to your competitors is unacceptable;  distributing bad data to your team is irresponsible. And when bad data is ignored, it’s negligence.

To outsource or not
I believe that an ability to compete on information (i.e., analytics) is a core capability that many firms have to possess to succeed. Does that mean that they also have to keep in-house all their information management activities? Is the entire information chain from source to decision a core activity? Or can you outsource the data warehouse/data stores and still be good at ‘doing analytics’? I don’t have any hard evidence either way, so I will make a judgment call and say no.

Forget the eclectic chairs
The term design thinking is a bit misleading. When I first heard the term my mind went to eclectic chairs, software design, mechanical design, architectural design, and so on. I definitely didn’t think about design as a competitive advantage when formulating strategy, problem solving, or tackling business issues. In layman terms design thinking is a way to solve problems so we as brazen change leaders can design successful change. I would much rather have a set of tools that help me engage people in change than have to manage resistance. No doubt, you need both, but managing resistance is no fun. Designing change that people ‘get’ is a much better space to be in.

Convergence around mobile
My mobile prediction then is that mobile devices become the new enterprise desktop. That’s not all, though, because there are a few other trends that seem to be converging around mobile. The first is context-aware mobile applications (actually context-aware apps in general, but we’re talking about them in a mobile context for now). This is most specifically about location aware apps for now, but I think context aware apps will expand into more than location over time. Location-aware apps are mostly targeted at consumers at this point, but they do provide an interesting business proposition.

—Michael Fauscette: Some thoughts on mobile