"Data is the new oil but, like crude oil, it's not much use unless it's refined," says Rumi Shivaz, director of Midas Infomedia in Wellington. Rumi has spent a lot of time encouraging business leaders to look up from their statistics and pivot tables. "They're up to their necks in metrics and algorithms and combinatorics and performance indicators, but it's a long way from that data to information. And its even further from information to insight." Anyone who has worked in Wellington will know exactly what Rumi means.
"Collecting data can be a futile exercise", he says. "In fact, many times numbers get in the way". Rumi's company works with organisations to produce interactive dashboards and "living reports" that highlight the realities underlying the data. These reports are like infographics, although you can click on them to drill down into the data. The secret sauce is the way in which these reports are shared within the organisation. As Rumi puts it: "The value of insight increases the more it is shared around". He can give lots of examples of this; essentially, what he means is that 'Eureka' moments within boardrooms don't tend to travel far. What works better is crunching the data into bite-sized pieces and then sharing these out far and wide, allowing people to reach their own insights in relation to their role. It's a process which has been shown to produce seismic shifts in workplace culture. In fact it's rather like bringing the sharing economy into the heart of management and production. The more you share, the more you have.
Speaking of which, Rumi recently launched a pilot project at the Hutt Chamber of Commerce, in association with yours truly. It's called DataShare and its goal is to help people create 'big data' from the bottom up, providing tools for them to promote, share and monetize data they create every day. You can find out more about the pilot project at datashare.co.nz.
Where to next? Rumi knows better than to cite long term plans in this age of disruption. Rather, he's happy to quote Ray Bradbury in summing up the spirit of the times: "Jump off cliffs and build your wings on the way down."