Information systems have three main purposes:

  • Record keeping
  • Communication
  • Forecasting

And these purposes are interconnected. Record keeping helps with communication and forecasting.

The problem is that not all information is of equal value. Information varies based on its accuracy, reliability as well as its ability to be encoded. Some information just can’t be fully captured. Nuance is lost when it is divided across more than 200 fields.

While transaction data is generally accurate, it still doesn’t cover the whole story of what went into that transaction.

There are a lot of gaps in the story behind most transactions. While some organizations use post purchase surveys to help fill in the information but those are limited.

Yet, even clear and straight forward data can be ambiguous and open to interpretation.

How much ambiguity is there in the information that you have?

How much risk can you tolerate?

Unfortunately, the degree of certainty around information is a pretty low number, so ambiguity and risk are almost always higher than you might think.

Statistical models of confidence, are just models. With the sheer number of variables, both known and unknown, models aren’t nearly as predictive as we tend to believe.

Even if predictive models prove to be correct over time, they are not necessarily helpful at any one moment in time.

Modern Analytics and the End Game

So with that as context, how do you design information systems that serve your purposes.

Of course, it helps to have a purpose and to know your purpose. Information systems can serve many different purposes and sometimes these purposes can conflict with each other.

The analytics used in modern day baseball have changed the game dramatically.  The data is out there. The tendencies of batters and pitchers are now known to all teams. Is this data an advantage to one team or the other, or does it still come back to the ability to execute.

In-game strategy has changed. Maybe one team has more insight than the other and that is what makes the difference between winning and losing. It definitely wasn’t that hanging curveball that was left out over the plate.

Sadly, no amount of analytics is going to make that curveball drop down and away from the batter.

Information paired with purposeful execution is a powerful combination. It is still not a guarantee that you will get the results that you are hoping to achieve, but it does put you in a better position to succeed.