Thursday, 29 November 2018

What Socrates Taught Us About Data Analysis

The Unexamined Life is Not Worth Living

If Socrates been a modern businessman, I’m sure he would have been an early adopter of Microsoft Power BI. He lived and died according to his adage: the unexamined life is not worth living. It is thanks to Socrates that we appreciate the huge power behind questions, and the work we do in data analysis is the stronger for it. Despite his famous frugality, I’ve no doubt that Socrates would have adored the visualizations.

Hemlock Pie Chart, anyone?

In today’s digital economy, the unexamined business is worth very little. Data analysis has become crucial in improving the way we work. However, data analysis isn’t a sausage machine: you don’t put data in one end and get strategy from the other. Data analysis, like life, benefits from questioning, Socratic or otherwise:
  • What are we trying to achieve?
  • What data do we have related to this?
  • Where did the data come from?
  • How accurate is the data?
  • What evidence do we have to support this?
  • Why is this happening?
  • What does this mean?
  • What do we already know about this?
  • What are we assuming?
  • How do we know this?
  • What is causing this?
  • What are the possible alternative causes?
Admittedly, not all of those questions might have been asked by Socrates, but the principle is the same - asking the right data analysis questions can be as valuable as the answers. Whilst numbers rarely lie, our interpretation of the numbers always benefits from critical questioning. The most successful companies on the planet use data analytics to test their assumptions, and methodically analyse data to get better answers. Data analysis has been behind the rise of Amazon, Nissan, American Express to name but a high-profile few.

Microsoft Power BI supports a wide range of data sources, analysis techniques, and visualizations, but all are most effective when used in conjunction with questions and hypotheses. And the results it presents are most useful when questioned carefully and critically. Undeniably, Microsoft Power BI is a powerful piece of software that’s getting more powerful every month.

At Anatec Software, we have always believed that our questions are more powerful than our answers, and the longevity of our solutions has proved us right. Every company is different, and every problem unique, so whilst the technologies we use might be the same, that’s where the similarity ends. We never try to fit problems to a one-solution-fits-all approach. Instead, we question thoughtfully, and listen hard to understand the challenges you face and the opportunities you’ve created. Only then can work with you to find the right solution.

We work with Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Power BI and Microsoft Excel to produce business intelligence solutions to suit all situations and budgets. We’ve got a lot of experience in helping businesses make sense of their data, and use their data to make better decisions.

So, if you’ve got more questions than answers, and a pile of data that could yield some insights, get in touch to find out how we can help. There’s no obligation, only thought-provoking questions and friendly advice.

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