The fact that it gets dark earlier this time of year means that we have more time to study the night sky. For thousands of years, mankind has looked to the night sky in wonder while considering the seemingly numberless stars. A great deal of information has been gathered about the stars themselves, and scientists have used their observations about the behavior of the the stars in the sky to determine many things about the universe. On a more practical level, many have leveraged the patterns that exist in the stars as a tools for navigation. Understanding the position of certain stars and groups of stars can provide a great deal of information about where one is on the Earth and where they are headed.
Long before the existence of the technologies that help us map out the night sky, people were fascinated by the lights that appeared once the sun went down. To begin to understand the relationship between the stars, they began to recognize patterns and the constellations were born. By searching for familiar shapes among the stars, they found ways to interpret what they were seeing. We understand more today about the stars than at any point in recorded history, but a funny thing happened along the way. Our view of the night sky itself has never been worse due to the ambient light created in our cities and communities. While this generated light allows us to continue to function while the sun is down, I can’t help but feel that we are missing out on the glorious lights in the heavens.
Like the stars in the sky, the amount of data that is available to us today is virtually limitless. If we could interpret and understand all of the data relevant to any decision, we would be able to vastly improve our decision making. To help us cope with the sheer volume of the data, we organize it into patterns that we can make sense of. This is especially true of the data we use to make business decisions. Much like sea captains of long ago used the patterns in the night sky to guide their ships, business leaders of today rely on patterns in their data to make the decisions that will guide their companies.
The manner in which today’s decision makers gather data, analyze it and then act based on that analysis will often determine the level of success that their companies achieve. Even more powerful is the concept of allowing a management team to have access to the data in a way that allows for collaborative analysis and decision making. Whether the key data for your business is so large that it requires advanced tools and technologies to store and analyze, or is so small that can it be contained in a simple spreadsheet, you need to have access to it in a way that helps you to understand its relevance. In my experience, the most important data is too often drowned out by the floods of information within our organizations, much as the light from many stars are distorted by the lights on the ground.
For quite some time now, I have made my living by helping businesses get the data that is most important to them organized into a format that allows them to better understand it. Bringing clarity from confusion when it comes to data is something that brings me a great deal of professional satisfaction. Some very exciting developments in data technology are bringing the ability to understand data to a much larger group of business users. Hopefully this added ability leads to a clearer view of the data that helps businesses move forward.