The importance of valid and real-time information in decision-making

The rapid pace of change can be witnessed all around - in technology, new phenomena, but perhaps most strikingly in information management.

The rapid pace of change, both in society and in business, can be witnessed all around in technology, new phenomena, but perhaps most strikingly in information management. The data and information used as a basis for decision-making is in serious danger of becoming outdated and distorted. New data is being generated all the time, but tapping to the latest expert information is a challenge. Constant monitoring of the business industry and data analysis ensure that the information is valid and real-time.

 

Every once and while there are big headlines of some major development projects, either public or private, which have become money-eating disasters without nothing to show for. In the end, these projects do not serve the purposes, nor answer the objectives they were set for. Often one characteristic of these types of derailed projects is that the decision-making suffers from invalid and outdated information.

 

Outdated and corrupted data

In Information Management theme day in late May the Finnish information guru Jyrki Kasvi argued that decisions are made blindly, and for example in politics many decisions are based on seriously outdated information.

 

It is perhaps a little bit surprising that this day and age, with all the modern metering and data collection methods, there exist such long lead times for information to reach decision-making. Are correct meters being employed, or is it just that the information and signals are out there but not understood? On the other hand, the problem of scarce data prevails all the time at least to a degree: one really never has too much and too fresh information available.

 

Outdated information is one thing. Biased or corrupted data is another. In order to promote their cause, various influencer organizations and lobbying actors aim to present data into the decision-making table. The abundance of information and its many sources make it more difficult to recognize what is relevant, the things that matter.

 

Futurist M. Wilenius recently presented (only in Finnish) that prevailing structures, such as old boy network and advocacy groups, should be abandoned, because they contribute to the distortion of the data. The future vision and decisions should solely be based on true and unbiased expert information.

 

Constant revision of information

The key requirement for the success of any project is that the information is and stays valid. Perhaps the bigger challenge has to do with keeping the information valid as time goes by. In the beginning, the data and resulting facts may well be good and correct. However, during the course of the project in business environment or in customer demand there may occur changes that directly affect the viability of the project.

 

In the best-case scenario, decision-makers have continuous access to relevant, valid and real-time information, on which they base their decisions. Thus, monitoring the business industry and analyzing the latest information and its implications must be an on-going process. This way the raw material for decision-making remains valid and real-time, and the future vision stays clear (assuming the management is up-to-date). Project management should be agile enough that new adjustments can be incorporated. When necessary, courage must prevail in order to introduce drastic changes.

 

Meeting the experts

What about the question of true expert information? It is definitely an interesting idea, but obviously begs the question of who or what can actually represent the true expert information? This is a question every one could spend few moments reflecting.

 

In a time of prolonged economic distress, one cannot help but wonder what kind of information, views, opinions, and “facts” had been on the table, when the decisions that affect our lives today were made. One surely hopes that Mr. Sipilä has had a meeting or two with the true experts.

 

 

By Kimmo Parviainen

 

 

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