Barry Devlin: People are the third element of the business “trinity”

Barry Devlin’s elegant writing style and the wisdom of his observations in Business unIntelligence convinced me at first graze that it would be worth reading. Then today, as I needed a reason to make time, I came across this.

Business exists, not to make money, but for and because of peoples’ needs to interact and trade the fruits of their labors.

I think that’s correct. It’s also a bold statement to an industry run by technology within a business culture mostly driven by other values. Even better, it promises more. We can hope it gives the BI industry a prod. Who has more credibility to do so than a co-inventor of the data warehouse?

It’s also a mere stone’s throw from a half-formed opinion of my own, until now expressed only among friends. I suspect that the greatest value of data analysis is to start conversation and to give it focus. The usual benefits touted in marketing collateral all rank lower. Someone who runs one of the biggest sources of such marketing has said as much in the privacy of lunch.

People, Barry writes, are the third element of the modern business “trinity” with information and process.

In business intelligence, I believe, too much attention goes to the first two. I suppose that’s because information technology is easier to sell and process is easier to talk about. People are much more difficult. Based on my long experience at all levels of business, I’ve found people’s behavior is not only equally important but much more interesting.

He goes on:

Over history, we see that one may have been emphasized over the others at different times or in different circumstances. … But, it’s important to understand that the biz-tech ecosystem can only function properly with a proper balance of all three elements.

The book, Business unIntelligence: Insight and Innovation Beyond Analytics and Big Data (2013; Technics), goes now to the top of the must-read stack.

Also: See his interview with Radiant Advisors editor Lindy Ryan.

3 Responses to Barry Devlin: People are the third element of the business “trinity”

  1. Thanks, Ted. If you’re particularly interested in the people aspects, fast-forward to Chapter 9! I’m also dealing with some of these aspects in my blogs at the moment. See bit.ly/1c4JXY8 for the last entry and an interesting one coming up later this week, inspired by Dave Eggers’ “The Circle”

Leave a reply

Other recent posts

End of one-size-fits-all data stories

This appeared originally on the TDWI site in September behind a paywall. It’s still there, but today they’ve had the 90 days of exclusive use that I agreed to. Survey after survey reveals that about 80 percent of business users don’t use data analysis—despite all the marketing and “easy to use” tools. As if in… Continue Reading

Qlik finally set to leapfrog Tableau?

Who’s your rival? I carelessly asked a Qlik person at the company’s annual analyst reception Monday night in Miami if she hadn’t once worked for Tableau. Her revulsion was immediate. “No! Never!,” she said. We smiled. There was so much more to talk about. For one thing, how will private equity change things? Qlik wasn’t… Continue Reading

Five Tips for Better Data Stories

Originally published on September 22, 2015 in BI This Week, a TDWI publication. A “data story” sounds like such a great idea. You just mix data with storytelling and you’re done — except that most data storytellers get one thing wrong: they drown out the story with data. Such storytellers, I believe, assume that audiences… Continue Reading

Bohemian Grove a la BI

The Bohemian Grove of the BI industry convenes for the fifteenth time in just three weeks. Naturally, you ask the obvious question: Are you serious? The Grove? A summit? The answer begins with a fond recollection of the Grove. If you’ve never attended the Bohemian Grove yourself — I haven’t, though I live in the… Continue Reading