Why You Should Animate Your Data to Liberate It

Andy Cotgreave (@acotgreave) posted the following in reply to my comments on his article at The Huffington Post (link at foot of this post). My original comments were a shortened version of a previous post here (Muting the Death Knell of the Data Scientist). Andy said:

You’re absolutely right Guy when you say too few businesses are exploring their data. It’s something that, as you pointed out, using a powerful tool like Tableau can do very quickly and easily. Regarding empowering employees, it certainly seems counterproductive to keep staff from using their own data. Why would you want to force staff to go to IT or the data scientist to get answers from their own data?

My reply:


I’m 100% in favour of empowering staff – I would prefer that everyone uses intuitive, informative, interactive self-service tools (yes, like Tableau!)… but I’m continually disappointed at the lack of effort from *significant proportions* of these empowered staff. It’s not that they shouldn’t have direct access, or can’t derive tremendous benefit from it – they should, and can – but a worryingly large number just do little or nothing with it. Literally nothing, even when handed to them on a plate, complete with training, support and offers of free education.

Commercially-focused, self-aware, communicative data scientists can act as a really valuable interface between data and decision-makers – helping to tell a story, driving understanding and encouraging empowerment i.e. demonstrating the art-of-the-possible, reducing fear factors and battling laziness. I appreciate this may be a jaundiced view – I’m conscious of being a middle-aged nay-sayer – but it accords with my experience. As a Tableau-ite, there’s a danger that you only get to see, work with and gain insights from the already-enlightened and the upwardly-empowered.

Oh, and by the way… I too refer to “commercially-focused, self-aware, communicative data scientists” (a rare breed) as Data Animators 🙂
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Perhaps others have better experiences of empowerment? I have certainly seen it work, stick and grow across departments in some clients… but I have seen more examples of work, grow, shrink, level-out in many more. I’d welcome ideas on how to enthuse, motivate and drive empowered employees to self-service and the generation of actionable insight, en masse.

Any thoughts?


I came across this article by Dan Erwin which takes a different approach to the same question, and sheds interesting light on cognitive ability.


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