Chapter 6Operating Models

Insight is easy; execution is hard. When it comes to big data and analytics, confusing the two is probably the single biggest reason organizations fail to see the returns they expect. At first, it seems counterintuitive. After all, the point of analyzing information is insight, isn’t it?

The problem with insight is that in isolation, it’s worthless. It’s what you do with it that matters, not whether you have it. Markets are hard and, to coin a phrase, never bring a knife to a gunfight.

Everyone has that friend, the one who has an answer to everything, the serial entrepreneur, the one who would be rich if only someone would bankroll his great ideas. We love being around these people, but late in the night, after more than a few drinks, they’re usually a bit of a bore. It’s not that they’re wrong; they’re just missing the point.

Ideas are cheap. It’s doing something with them that’s the hard part. Given enough information, there’s no end of interesting ideas a reasonably motivated person can come up with—ideas that, if fostered for long enough, sometimes germinate into potential innovations. Insight is the road that never ends; if you’re not careful, the journey sometimes becomes more important than the destination.

There’s always one more fact to find, one more way of slicing the data, one more information source, one more report, one more mashup. It’s addictive. Discovery can be a dangerous siren; more than one explorer has become wrecked upon her shores. ...

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