Puzzling Context: The importance of seeing the whole picture

The skies are blue, the sun is shining, and if that isn’t enough to make your smile, it also happens to be a public holiday today.  In celebration of The Queen’s birthday, I am….cleaning the house?!

In a flurry of washing, tidying, organising, cleaning, wiping, toilet training (my two year old, not me), I stumbled across something which filled me with fear – the dreaded lone jigsaw puzzle piece!  This is not just a single piece of a jigsaw puzzle, it’s the determining factor as to whether a quiet rainy afternoon spent indoors will end in giggles or tears, and therefore it must find a way back to its rightful location.

Herein lies the problem, what jigsaw puzzle does it belong to?

How ironic that on my day off I face the same problem that I spend my working hours trying to solve for customers.  A single piece of data, of information, of knowledge, without any context of when or where or how it was gathered, provides very little insight into how it should influence our business decisions.  Stephen R. Covey teaches that “Priority is a function of context” – is this piece of information important?  Can I use it to make key decisions and impact the success of my business?

Or is it just what it is, a piece of data?

When we look at information without context we miss the inter-dependencies and relationships between transactions, customers, products and processes, that can tell us whether this piece of data is important enough to help us better understand and influence organisational performance.

If however, we look at a jigsaw puzzle piece in context, we can understand where it fits in the bigger picture, how it interacts and joins other pieces of the puzzle, and how it relates to what we already know.

Which begs the question – how do we view information in context?

Context is relative – relative to the individual, to the outcome, to the customer, to the product, to the organisation…  The only way to view information in context, is by providing a foundation of analytical capabilities that can support the individual to slice and dice whichever way puts that piece of information in context for them.

IBM Business Analytics provides the software footprint to deliver the most comprehensive and integrated foundation for analytics on the market.  Combined with a comprehensive data store and knowledge of your business you’d be well on your way to making sure every individual in the organisation can look at a piece of the puzzle in context.

What a difference context can make!