Rod Bryan has worked for Teradata, DoubleClick, PwC, IBM Global Services, and is currently a partner with Deloitte Australia. He is also one of those public speakers who commands all of the attention in the room. He is knowledgeable, excitable, forceful, passionate, and animated, and delivered an analogy at the eMetrics Summit in Sydney that works well on so many levels, we had to lean forward to catch it all.
Analogies are great – the human mind soaks them up like a dry sponge in a spring rain. The refreshing coolness of an analogy permeates the frontal lobe and hydrates the dusty cobwebs of inflexible membranes. A tenuous analogy can be as unsatisfying as an aerosol spritz of rubbing alcohol to a thirsty man while an excessively wrought analogy can be as inundating as a waterboarding session under a waterfall in a humid swamp in the rainforest. Clearly, getting the balance right is an art.
Fortunately, Rod Bryan is an artist. He presented to a riveted audience on the subject of diamonds: “Diamonds are a Data Analyst’s Best Friend.”
He could have stopped with: diamonds, like data, are much more abundant than you would imagine but difficult to turn into a thing of beauty. We all got that. It was a clear and crisp analogy that required no twisting or turning of the facts to see his point.
He could have simply equated the fine art of diamond cutting to the craft of data analysis. We would have nodded sagely as we thought of ourselves as rare individuals with superior talents.
Rod could then have wondered off into a description of a data capture and manipulation framework or a change management process or a vision of a data-integrated future. We would have been happy. Our thirst would have been quenched. But he was only getting started.
Yes, diamonds and data are not valuable in their raw form. They have to be mined and cut and polished. But, said Rob, they also need to be placed into a smart, well-crafted setting that shows off their beauty with pride. Enough pride and reverence that the recipient perceives a value that is not intrinsic.
The real value of a diamond is the result achieved when offered to the object of one’s desire. If the presentation is well-staged and the intent is honorable, sincere, and passionate, then the recipient will honor and cherish it.
Data must also be cleaned up, set on a pedestal, and presented in a way that suggests a bright future – and for all the right reasons. The value is then found in the decisions made based on the insights cut from the raw material.
Rod discussed conflict diamonds and paralleled them with the difficulty of extracting data from systems.
He spoke of how imperfections in diamonds – like questionable data quality – can obfuscate the industrial power they both have for affecting change.
Rod also made sure to communicate that it takes just the right circumstances to create a diamond out of carbon – much less than what his pet dog makes out of carbon after enjoying a bowl of dog food.
So be careful, he warned, that you start with the proper type and the highest quality of data before you begin slicing, dicing, polishing, and mounting. Otherwise, no recipient will be pleased with your offering.
If you ever get the chance to hear Rod present, do yourself a favor. He will leave you smiling and informed.
Images via Shutterstock.
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