Article over at 37signals on titled The three secrets of business analytics (no rocket science here) lists three things that Noah deems required in order to be successful. Go read it. It’s good.
When I read it I was struck by his second item, Make it easy.
In my view this is actually the hardest of the three steps. Simplifying something can be excruciatingly hard work. Knowing something about what you do is easy, it just takes time and keeping your eyes and ears open. Then remember it. Looking at lots of data is easy, it just (once again) takes time and keeping your eyes and ears open. Then remembering the patterns in what you saw. When you see something that doesn’t seem quite right, it probably isn’t.
But making something easy. This is where you’ll do the bulk of the heavy thinking. This is where you not only spend time, but also where you think about what you’ve just extracted from the data and say “what does this really mean? Is it really a useful piece of information? Knowing it, what will I now change?” And if in reality, the answer is that nothing will change, then you go back to the drawing board and rethink it, test another idea.
This is also where some huge value comes. Because once you do find a easy way of deriving some information out of the data, that will change things, will have an impact, that’s the gold nugget you’ve been searching for.