Friday, January 20, 2006

Data, Data Everywhere

I have spent the better part of the last 20 years working on software projects that leveraged, in one way or another a database. Software that analyzed banking customer profitability, retail sales, phone switch records, help desk tickets for a telephone utility, disease management, logistics to name a few. That doesn't even consider the torrent of data being generated by activity on the Web or RFID. What is a business to do with all of this data? How are decision makers going to stay afloat in this flood of data? How are managers going to find meaning (information) from the bits and bytes?

Presently, there are data structures that can address part of this problem. Data Warehousing/Mart structures permit users to conduct hypothesis verification. For example, division manager postulates "Widgets and Hoohas are draining our profitability". She can then proove or disprove the theory via inquiry of the Financial Data Mart, for instance.

This simply will not be suffiicient in the very near future. As more and more databases, come online, the manager will require a smarter way of using the data. Data Mining, using statistical and other modeling techniques to find patterns and relationships not readily apparent to even the knowlege worker, is how organizations may distance themselves from competition and draw themselves nearer to their partners and supply chain.