Skip to content

Through the data looking glass in search of business value

An essential part of maintaining competitive advantage in today's knowledge economy is to find new sources of value hidden in data.

The search for untapped sources of business value invariably concerns three types of questions you can ask of your data:

KNOWN KNOWNS. These are the things we know that we know – the all-too-familiar metrics in BI dashboards and reporting tools that give you a past-looking, summarised view of your business.

KNOWN UNKNOWNS. These are the things we know that we don’t know – while the question are clear, the outcomes are not. Predictive analytics can be used to extrapolate historical trends and patterns, as well as assess future business impacts.

UNKNOWN UNKNOWNS. These are the things we don’t know that we don’t know – the questions that no one has yet thought to ask, or the “ah-ha” moments that represent truly unique insights and opportunities to transform the way your business competes or operates.

Each type of question differs considerably in nature (Table 1). Known Known type questions recognise the value of hindsight whereas Known Unknowns and Unknown Unknowns both recognise the value of foresight.

The main distinction between Known Unknowns and Unknown Unknowns is that the latter doesn’t require a clear definition of a business problem or research goal – instead the learning objectives can be open-ended, uncertain, or even ambiguous.

Table One
Examples of Different Question Types

Source of ValueCustomersOperationsFinance
Known KnownWhat were sales for last quarter?What was the mean time between equipment failures?What customers defaulted on their loans?
Known UnknownWhat will sales be for next quarter?

How do we create new product offers that will be attractive to different customer segments in our next marketing campaign?
What are the root causes of our equipment failures?

How can we better predict certain events occurring to minimise downtime and customer disruptions?
What is the probability of a new customer defaulting?

What credit limits should be applied for different customer risk profiles?
Unknown UnknownWhat customer behaviours or motivations haven’t we discovered yet?Where are there expensive inefficiencies concealed deeply in our operations?What correlations and micro-patterns are we missing that might allow us to develop new products and grow market share?


Question-based leadership in an uncertain world

In search of business value, and in response to increasing levels of business uncertainty and the growing availability and complexity of data, the questions we invariably hear business leaders ask are: “We have all this data – what more could we, or should we be doing with it?” “What are we missing?” “What can’t we see?”

Such open-ended questions are a great way for leaders to start conversations with employees about the strategic significance of data, as well as explore new ideas and possibilities.

At DeepConnect®, we believe the human elements of creativity and intuition are instrumental in the formulation and evolution of Unknown type questions; however, these questions can also emerge through the systematically analysis of data from new angles and perspectives that haven’t yet been explored.

So how does DeepConnect® systematically uncover “Unknowns” in data?

Several ways.

Firstly, Unknowns are generally deeply concealed in micro-patterns and substructures of complex data. Using AI and visual analytics, DeepConnect® makes it easy for data scientists and business people alike to expose and explore patterns and substructures in data from any number of angles and business perspectives.

Secondly, DeepConnect® works like a co-pilot for insight discovery, allowing users to probe complex data, and actively guide the machine learning process pursuant to their own learning objectives or priorities. This allows users to quickly reframe questions and perform increasingly relevant analyses to create learnings above and beyond what they already know.

Lastly, because knowledge and data are generally scattered throughout organisations or trapped in silos, DeepConnect® is a cloud solution that allows employees, partners and customers to analyse and explore data securely and collaboratively. This creates a wider diversity of learnings and perspectives, leading to a greater discovery of insights than would otherwise occur with desktop software.

By combining smart tools that enhance the ability of humans to learn from data in the ways we’ve described, the systematic discovery of Unknowns in data is now within the reach of every employee.

To find out more about how your organisation can discover Unknowns and hidden sources of value in data using DeepConnect®, please contact us or check out our Platform and Academy pages.