A critical, but overlooked, area of data science is linking analytics to action. Decision-makers must
- Understand the information being presented to them
- Have confidence in the analysis
- Be able to place information in the context of the decisions they are required to take
- Understand how to apply the information to make better, more informed, decisions
Too much focus has been placed on the needs of the analysts—and this is stifling the overall effectiveness of data science initiatives.
Brian Williams has produced an article—Creating an analytic culture through data interaction—discussing this topic. He has some interesting things to say.
He defines the problem as follows.
The complexity of information environments is challenging most organizations. Not all decision makers are ready to become more analytic, and as we focus on visualization, data mining, and predictive analytics, decision makers will become even more reliant on analysts and may not perceive they have the abilities to keep up with the quants.
One area of data science I’ve found to be weak is visualization. Many data scientists assume that charts are visualization tools that can be presented to decision-makers. Wrong. Charts are tools for data scientists. Managers may not have the time and/or the skills to draw conclusions from a chart.
The article has this to say on visualization
When analysts design visuals without user interaction in mind, their charts and infographics simply are a static sharing of their own analysis. […] Design needs to be sufficient enough to be a starting point for a decision maker that invites interaction.
Tooling clearly has a major part to play in bringing visuals to life.
Managers who are clued-up about data science—and its strengths and limitations—will be able to direct analysts to produce more actionable insights. There’s a constant cry for this sort of guidance from data scientists who feel they have the tools, but not the questions.
If we are to realize the substantial potential of data-driven decision-making we need to develop suppliers and consumers in lockstep. The current focus on supply-side tooling and training will result in disillusionment and throwing the baby out with the bathwater.