Is Donald Trump the Data Discovery Tool of the 2016 Presidential Election?

Dan Grady's picture
 By | March 07, 2016
in Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Intelligence, Data Discovery, data discovery, Data Integrity, Data Visualization, data visualization, Donald Trump, presidential election 2016, Self Service
March 07, 2016

The disruption Donald Trump has caused in the political arena and the disruption Data Discovery tools have caused in the BI, analytics, and IT sphere - just how different are they?

Right off the bat, I’d like to state that I know very little about politics and this post has no political agenda whatsoever. Frankly, until this year I’ve never really paid much attention to debates, policies, or wings (except the chicken variety).
But this election season I find myself glued to CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. I can’t get enough coverage of these races. What’s different this year? Obviously, it’s Donald Trump and the entertaining chaos that he has caused.
As I’ve watched this phenomenon develop, I’ve started to recognize similarities between the disruption Donald Trump has caused in the political arena and what Data Discovery tools have done to the Business Intelligence and Analytics industry and IT departments in general.
  • Pundits say that Trump’s popularity is largely driven by the public’s frustration with the establishment. Data Discovery tool adoption has been driven by frustration with IT’s ability to rapidly deploy information, analytics, and data.
  • Every Trump appearance generates tremendous interest and crowds, but many (myself included) tune in to see something unexpected – we don’t know what’s going to happen, what he’s going to say. Data Discovery is similar – we’re looking for something we didn’t know, not a specific actionable insight that’ll make a business impact. Gartner’s research indicates that for every 12 exploratory projects, a company may have only one that makes it to a production application.
  • Trump seems to have a strategy of creating just enough vision to get into office and then come up with a plan as time goes on. People often buy Data Discovery tools with the vision of exposing game-changing insights, but without thinking about how to operationalize the insights and start impacting the bottom line.
  • Trump’s competitors like to point out that he has really only won 34% of the party votes. What percentage of a given organization will adopt a data discovery tool to get the answers they’re looking for? Maybe 20%? Most organizations require both self-service tools and self-service data-driven apps to serve their diverse informational needs.
  • During the GOP debate in Detroit, Fox News pointed out that many of Trump’s deficit-reduction numbers and potential cost savings don’t add up – and it makes people wonder, whose numbers should we trust? Data Discovery tools produce beautiful visualizations, but the data they present employs the presenter’s own sources and has their ideas and biases baked in, consciously or not. Should we have faith in the quality and the integrity of the data being visualized?
  • Trump has proven he’s got a knack for the Boardroom, but has he ever really governed? Data Discovery tools give a businessperson the ability to quickly visualize their data to enable boardroom-level conversations, but if that organization doesn’t have strong data governance policies, how much of the meeting is going to be consumed with arguments about the validity of the data? Sound like anything we’ve seen on TV recently?

I don’t want this to come across as Trump/Data Discovery tool bashing – chaos can be good for driving change and innovation.

Donald Trump made some interesting points during the Detroit debate about the ability to learn over time and to have flexibility in changing situations. To quote him, “There is always some tug and pull to a deal. We need give and take in government.”

Many organizations are starting to recognize the same is true when it comes to the constant “tug and pull” between the business and IT.

Last year Gartner coined the term “Bimodal IT” referring to the demand for two coherent IT delivery modes. Mode 1 is the traditional, sequential approach emphasizing delivery and accuracy, and Mode 2 is the more exploratory and non-linear approach emphasizing agility and speed.

This “flexibility” that Donald Trump referred to is going to be a key to his success moving forward and it most definitely is a trait of a successful data strategy.

Do stand-alone Data Discovery tools have the ability to support both modes?

Do they offer the ability to deliver on the diverse set of data-driven demands and opportunities that most organizations are faced with today?

Or do they just provide distractions and chaos?

Chaos may be fun to look at, but when push comes to shove is that chaos alone going to “make your company great again”?