Only 12 Percent of Data Collected is Ever Used

Emerald Summer by Lauren Adams

Emerald Summer by Lauren Adams

Wow. 

Govloop shared this stat in a post last and it got my attention.  If someone had asked me for the percent of data analyzed vs. what's collected, I would have guessed less than 100 percent but wouldn't have gone that low.  

The other thing that struck me was that-- for as much time as my client and team spends thinking about data-- we'd never examined their issues with field-level buy-in, demonstrating progress, or general forecasting from that perspective. So, I think it's a great, highly quote-able stat.

WHY I LOVE IT

It has shock value. Also, it came from a Forrester Research survey so it has credibility.  I did a little digging and found this reference on their site for more information.  It's unclear if this report on hadoop contains the survey data but if you're interested in the exact citation, that would be a place to start.

Here's an excerpt... "In a recent Forrester survey, technology execs and decision-makers ranked data-related projects at the top of their list for importance and investment. Why? Companies seek deeper insights from the massive amount of data at their disposal but estimate that they are analyzing only 12% of the data that they already have, leaving 88% of it on the cutting-room floor."

HOW YOU MIGHT USE IT

If you work with data-- and, really, who doesn't-- you can use this reference in two ways.  

  1. From an analytics perspective: Use this single little stat to launch a review of the body of data you/your client collects. Consider the data fields you collect as an entity and asset unto itself. Pull the list of fields into a spreadsheet, then make tabs for all of your common report queries with the lists of fields they're pulling.  Calculate the stat for your organization.  From the stuff that isn't utilized, figure out quickly if you can stop collecting it or find a way in the next 3 months to use it.  I suspect that a lot of these fields aren't used because some people are populating them and others aren't.  So there is no confidence that the data is sufficiently complete to be relied upon for any analysis.  To overcome this, just keep what you can use in the near-term and let folks off the hook for collecting everything else.
  2. From a communications perspective: Take this stat and the one you calculated for your organization and share this in your next leadership meeting. Outline your plan for increasing the use select fields and plan to sunset everything else. Both scenarios represent a win in data use and time savings for data elimination.

Robin Camarote

I'm the co-founder of Federal MicroConsulting and strategic planning consultant based on Falls Church, VA. I am intent on helping leaders get more done with fewer headaches by outlining clear, creative strategies and solutions that build momentum and buy-in at all organizational levels. In addition to consulting, I write regularly for Inc.com, GovExec.com, and Bloomberg Government on leadership and how to increase your positive impact at work. She is the author of a best-selling book on organizational behavior entitled, Flock, Getting Leaders to Follow and Own It: Drive Your Career to a Place of Happiness and Success. I live with my husband and three children in Falls Church, Virginia.

Data Visualization Inspiration

In this post, I shared one of my favorite examples of small multiples. Save the Children's report on the state of moms around the world focused in a couple of key numbers and repeated the pattern for each country included. 

Here's a totally different example from Simon Rogers Guardian and another very effective use of circles.

data visualization example robin camarote

 

 

In contrast to the small multiples, this graph highlights a subset of countries, organizes them by continent, then focuses on a single metric-- emission levels. 

WHY I LOVE IT

These circles are so effective because they enable the reader to quickly understand the difference in magnitude on a single data point. I like that it's grouped by continent because it helps orient you to where the lesser known countries are located. I also love the colors but it might leave some people craving Skittles rather than evoking concern for the environment.  Lastly, it's further supported by a couple of line graphs and tables at the bottom for some addition detail. Big stuff on the top, little on the bottom. 

HOW YOU MIGHT USE IT

If you like the circles*, consider using them to compare a single important data element across a number of units within your organization.  Program budgets might be one example.  Or people served by a specific program benefiting the public across a number of locations might be another. The key is to pick one important outcome and track it against multiple contributors so that you can see the key players.

To be sure, this took lots and lots of time to assemble. I don't know specifically but I'm guessing it was more than a single afternoon. If you're thinking of replicating a series of charts like these, consider doing it as a poster that will be printed and displayed, as well as, posted electronically. This format isn't appropriate for a PowerPoint presentation.  It should be treated as a stand-alone communications product. Actually, it's a good reason to forget the presentation all together and just do this.

*I had a client years ago who didn't like circles. I'm not kidding. They were banned from all deliverables after we brought him a draft that he glanced at then retitled "the birth control chart" during a big staff meeting. Awesome. I'd never met someone with such an aversion to a basic shape. Primary colors?  Sure.  A lot of people hate yellow.  But a circle?  It makes me sad just thinking about it. I hope this never happens to you.

Robin Camarote

I'm the co-founder of Federal MicroConsulting and strategic planning consultant based on Falls Church, VA. I am intent on helping leaders get more done with fewer headaches by outlining clear, creative strategies and solutions that build momentum and buy-in at all organizational levels. In addition to consulting, I write regularly for Inc.com, GovExec.com, and Bloomberg Government on leadership and how to increase your positive impact at work. She is the author of a best-selling book on organizational behavior entitled, Flock, Getting Leaders to Follow and Own It: Drive Your Career to a Place of Happiness and Success. I live with my husband and three children in Falls Church, Virginia.