Decision-makers often ask for “data”, but what they really want is information which will help them understand a problem or a condition around the decisions they need to make. Yet they often do not know what data is available, what it is called, and how they might want that data or derived information expressed.
Decision-makers don’t want to worry about granularity of data, or how it is integrated, or how it is aggregated and transformed into information. They also are not interested in the various “qualifications” of information expression (all the stuff which should be placed in footnotes), even though they should understand (as Deming put it) the “weaknesses of the data”. We will explore the data-to-information life cycle, and all the potential points of failure or misinterpretation along that path. We will also look at the analysis and graphic tools and techniques through which such information is expressed for human eye-brain consumption.
The role of context (historical, lateral, etc.) is important in moving raw data towards useful information. We shall survey graphical techniques and case studies which illustrate how important context is in understanding the true consequence of a data point. For example, one common characteristic of most measures of business, society, and economic activity is constant growth. But the rate of growth, and a declining share of total activity may be masked by that raw growth. We will explore simple mathematical and graphic techniques for putting raw metrics into more meaningful context.
Michael Scofield is a popular speaker in the topics of data management, data quality, data visualization, and semantic data integration. He also holds an adjunct faculty position at Loma Linda University in the Department of Health Information Management. He is the recipient of the 2008 DAMA International Community Award presented in San Diego, March, 2008. He was also a 2007 nominee for the DAMA (Data Mgmt. Assn.) Award for Professional Achievement.
Mr. Scofield’s career has included education and private industry in areas of data quality, decision-support systems, data warehousing, and data management. His articles appear in DM Review, the B-Eye Newsletter, InformationWeek magazine, the IBI Systems Journal, and other professional journals. He has spoken to over 140 professional audiences for organizations such as Data Management Assn chapters (16), European Metadata Conferences (4), information quality conferences (3), The Data Warehousing Institute (6), Oracle User Groups (9), Institute of Internal Auditors, Assn. of Government Accountants, Quality Assurance Association chapters, Assn. for Computing Machinery and other professional and civic audiences. He has humor published in the L.A. Times and other journals.
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