Best not perfect data

What Grilling Has to Do With Data Management

Good data stimulates good decisions.  This takes good data management.  Living here in Austin, we can pretty much use our outdoor grill throughout the year.  While we were recently grilling  we were also talking about data.  It occurred to use that one of the concerns about food quality relates to data quality.

Studies show that grilling meat can form carcinogens, that is, substances or agents that can promote cancer. Cancer cells differ from normal cells in many ways that allow them to grow out of control and become invasive, essentially corrupting normal functions. Perhaps you can relate this idea of out of control and corrupting normal functions to what’s happening with data.

Still wondering what grilling even has to do with data management? It will become clearer if we understand how carcinogens are created during the grilling process.  Recent research suggests that there is a relationship between the types of charcoal and level of carcinogen formation, as well as the type of meat and the types of cancer it may induce. Similarly, the type of data, how you store it, and how you manage it makes all the difference when it comes to results.

5 Important Aspects for Good Data

The recommendations for avoiding these potentially harmful agents when grilling aptly apply to collecting and analyzing your data. Let’s look at five tips for good data management.

  1. Keep it Clean.  Leftover bits of food and grease on your grill, especially from animal proteins, contain carcinogens. The more they’re scorched by the heat, the more concentrated the cancer-causing agents become. It’s strange how easy it is for little bits and pieces of data to accumulate. Dirty data costs companies millions of dollars each year. Errors and omissions in master data, incomplete data, duplicate data, inaccurate data, inconsistent data, all contribute to dirty data.  It’s recommended that you clean the grill surface every time you grill so leftover pieces don’t get transferred to your next meal, potentially creating a health risk.  The same applies to your data.  Make sure it’s clean every time before you use it. We’re doing a project for a customer right now where we’re finding that close to 50% of the data is bad.  It’s costing time and money to find workarounds.
  2. Proper Prep. In cooking, it common to apply a marinade or rub to prepare the food and add flavor. It just as important to address data prep. defines data preparation as “a pre-processing step in which data from one or more sources are cleaned and transformed to improve its quality before its use in business analytics.” Data prep is important before you merge different data sources with different structures and different levels of data quality in order to produce a clean, consistent format. When it comes to grilling you want to use alcohol and acid-based marinades because they hinder the release of a cancer-causing chemical produced when animal proteins are cooked at a high temperature.  Prep your data by pulling it into an environment where it can be safely analyzed and manipulated.
  3. Avoid Free Radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage the growth, development, and survival of cells in the body. Their reactive nature allows them to engage in unnecessary side reactions causing cellular impairment and eventually injury when they are present in disproportionate amounts. When it comes to Bar-B-Q, we can use antioxidant herbs and seasonings to help decrease free radicals that are created when you grill. When it comes to data, the key is to apply the principles of validity and reliability to your data.  Sloppy and inconsistent data will compromise your analysis and your insights.
  4. Think Thin. Fat dripping into the fire which results in flare ups is one of the primary trains of thought connecting grilling and cancer.  It’s recommended to use thinner cuts of meat to reduce cooking time or to steam the meat before grilling to reduce the risk of juices dripping into the flame. For most organizations today, the lack of data isn’t a problem. It’s the opposite: there’s often too much information available to make a clear decision. Think thin – be clear about the question or questions you want to answer. Then only choose the data you need to inform your decision and draw an accurate conclusion.
  5. Cook Thoroughly but Don’t Char. According to the National Cancer Institute, grilling meats at high temperatures results in the formation of chemicals known as HCAs, which can increase the risk of cancer. Blackened and charred meat contains three and a half times more HCAs than medium-rare meat. Avoid over-analyzing your data. Data analysis is not about perfection. It’s about deriving an insight that will enable you to take the best step with the greatest impact. Go for best not perfect.

I truly enjoy grilling and find that it makes food look and taste better. Data when used properly make fosters better decisions. Thanks to more sophisticated technology, today it is easier to obtain and analyze data. And there’s a strong push to take a more scientific and data-derived approach to decisions over hunches, gut feel, and experience. With these five tips, you can keep your data from going out of control, corrupting your capabilities, hindering your decisions, or derailing your growth.

Hope you found this episode of What’s Your Edge? Helpful. What’s Your Edge? Is the creation of VisionEdge Marketing.  VisionEdge Marketing, founded in 1999, helps our customers solve the most difficult problems when it comes to using data, analytics, process and measurement to accelerate growth, create customer value, and improve performance. We always welcome hearing from you.

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