The ability to ask questions
Assume we had all the data we needed. Assume that all the systems were talking together. Assume that insights could be executed flawlessly. Assume that an analyst wasn’t weighed down by reporting.
Assume we’ve reached the gates of paradise.
Would most analysts know what to do with it?
To be sure, we tend to build these systems with some idea of the business questions we want answered. These include:
“Who are my most profitable customers?”
“What are my most profitable customers like?”
“Where can I find new customers like them, cheaply?”
“Who are my least profitable customers?”
“What are my least profitable customers like?”
“How can I avoid attracting those customers, cheaply?”
In reality, the set of business questions might be far less powerful. Or more powerful. Or bigger. Or might include “How many people are coming to my website”. Assume we could measure people for matter.
Assume an analyst could ask any question and get an answer to it that was sufficiently accurate to base a major business decision off it. Or a set of decisions for n customers.
Assume a can opener.
This is where the value of curiosity really starts to come in.
The ability to not only ask questions, but to define the set of questions that are most likely to drive value, and then to ask the questions after that question: that’s the rare stuff.
I don’t think we should take that skill for granted.
I figure that while we’re building the Kingdom of Data Heaven, maybe we should keep in mind the people who are most likely to drive the greatest value out of it. For those who are curious enough to ask the big what if questions after the base questions.
Maybe we should be thinking about the people who are insatiably curious – who are obsessed with completing more of ‘why’ than asking more of ‘what’.
Heaven isn’t a static dashboard. Heaven is a sandbox.