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  • By Jeffrey Tomas Marchesseault

Relax—everyone else’s data sucks, too!

OK, not everyone’s. But word on the street is that your crappy data management system probably has a lot in common with the next guy’s – classically dated past-generation troves with a charming twist of old school retrieval and performance technology that’s barely cutting the mustard. And if you want to leave it at that, your organization will be just fine. Fine for as long as your competitive environment demands nothing more than enough talent and tap dancing to get by.

But when the competition heats up and your crippled information system is sucking precious time, money and energy away from wherever it could be leveraging an optimized frame of reference, you’d better get a handle on things before your slapdash stash of statistics sucks the life straight out of your enterprise.

So assuming you suddenly do need your products and services to shine because your competitor is now stealing your customers, you’ve got to start analyzing systems and tracking results in order to detect and tweak internal errors and weaknesses and improve performance.

Meantime, take comfort that no matter how sketchy your information system may be, any isolated piece of data is worthless at some point in its life cycle, anyway. Its primary aspirational value is accuracy. Junk in is junk out. An event is reported. Did it really happen? Exactly as described? Assuming accuracy, does that data bit fit a trend, or is it an anomaly? Accuracy may require focused extraction, double-checking, and cross-referencing until your raw data’s veracity has exceeded a reasonable doubt. Data’s second value is context – how it’s used.

Medical records present a fine case in point. To this day the healthcare industry is still weaning itself out of the file room and into the cloud. But no matter how organized and accurate these physical folios may be, they fail the test of context in a digitized 21st century world. Machine learning, artificial intelligence and the blockchain cannot breathe in a metal cabinet stuffed with manila folders.

The slog to convert medical records may be frustratingly slow for patients and their families, but a dynamic world compels an interactive switch. Digital healthcare records and dispersed interfaces can reduce cost, errors, reaction time, and patient harm; they can systematize payments and individual health regimens; and they can clarify communication among providers along the chain of care. Saving time can literally save lives.

Your organization could be sitting on a goldmine of raw data with the capacity to present instant value to paying customers from all over the planet. But just as the rich veins of gold discovered in quartz require careful extraction and refinement to render the highest value, so does our ever-accreting data.

Raw data is useless without the kind of retrieval, analysis, and application that renders worth at sufficient speed. But when recordation is flawed, the data itself is false and can waste irreplaceable time and money or even pose a danger if assumed conclusive.

In the forgotten corridors of some far-flung city hall bereft of good data, a listless bureaucrat scrolls through her LinkedIn feed to glimpse a gleaming alliance of East Asian metropolises. Behold! This confederation has covenanted to digitally collect, analyze, and share everything from 40 years of average monthly utility bills among families of four to interactive compendiums of multilayered investment zone maps supported by current population statistics within 5,000-square-meter radii.

This alliance’s objective is to generate an atmosphere of innovation by feeding the free market with informative reports that spur the creation of competitive products and services that solve problems and make their region an attractive place to live, work, and play. Fortunately, in a day and age when there is an almost maniacal demand for intelligently analyzed data across nations and regions, there is a robust market for the tools, education, and financing necessary to roll out right-fit solutions for any organization willing to roll up its sleeves and give it a go.

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Jeffrey Tomas Marchesseault loves to read, write, and riff about busted communication systems and how to fix them with technology. Send feedback to

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