What Are You Telling People?
Opinion: Applications represent choices about telling the right story in the right way.A person might reasonably wonder about a headline like "Small Business Use of Internet to Grow Slightly." My first reaction was something like, "Perhaps, but does a business that does use the Internet effectively stay small?" If I survey "small business" use of the Internet in Year 0, and again survey "small business" use in Year 1, might I overlook firms that started small but made lucrative use of Internet technologyand consequently failed to qualify for my "small business" sample the second time around? Absent detailed information on sample strategy, an artifact like this could easily slip by. Ive lately had similar suspicions about continued popular focus on the Dow Jones Industrial Average as a measure of financial markets vigor. The DJIAs distortions of overall market action are legion, and Ive been trying to train myself to look instead at broader and less oddly weighted measures like the Wilshire 5000but my brain has decades of DJIA back story in it that make the DJIA feel like a quicker and stronger signal of "what happened today?" If I cant get a daily update on DJIA numbers and trends, Im less well-informedthe DJIAs defects notwithstanding.
Issues like these ought to be part of the discussion whenever someone starts to talk about writing a business intelligence application or implementing a BI "dashboard" for management, sales, operations, or any other discipline or constituency in an enterprise. Its incredibly easy to measure the right thing in the wrong way, or measure something thats objectively useful but not usefully familiar to the people who are supposed to benefit from the information.