Putting Data Into Context: The Power of the Right Information at the Right Time

Part of a series of reviews on industry events, this blog talks about Tuuli’s reflections on Swiss Testing Day and the IBM CE event in March 2017.

Have you ever received an email and thought: “Why am I receiving this email? What’s the context?” It’s likely that someone had a discussion outside the email thread and with the best intentions, sent out an email to everyone they thought were affected by the topic of conversation, but forgot to reference relevant material in the email.

Receiving information without context is not only frustrating, but can sometimes have undesired implications. Let’s imagine someone had a war room discussion about a major incident that affected a CRM system, and for it to be fixed, you had to apply a fix from a vendor. Without knowing the context and thus the possible fix, the poor owner of the CRM system not only receives complaints from their team, but also customers, which often get escalated to management very quickly.

Last week I had the pleasure of attending Swiss Testing Day in Zurich and presenting at an IBM Continuous Engineering Symposium in London.

Though the subjects were fairly different, two clear themes emerged: the importance of data relationships and traceability. You can see how both of these derive from the same challenge of data context. Below I’ve broken down the two themes to explore these further:

Data Relationships

  • Helps understand connections.
  • Helps decide what action / non-action to take: Who needs to know? What is the importance of this information? Who is/ will be impacted? Who can I go to to ask more about this? What dependencies are there?
  • Julius Bär’s presentation mentioned this a number of times.

Traceability

  • Presenting information in light of historical data.
  • It helps answer difficult questions such as: What happened before this information was sought? What triggered it? How can we prevent it from happening again?
  • What is the predicted risk? What may happen in the future based on the history?
  • It not only helps with audits, but also helps understand the story behind the data.

And all of this context boils down to one thing: It allows you to make informed decisions. But remember, all the information presented is up to interpretation, and the action or lack of action is up to the human reading and interpreting the data.

In our first example of the broken CRM system, the system owner may have prevented the issue had they been informed about the known error and vendor fix beforehand. They could have then taken action without having to deal with the issue and customer satisfaction at the same time.

Tuuli with Tasktop partners Infometis AG and Tricentis at Swiss Testing Day 2017.

Dr. Tuuli Bell is a Partner Account Manager, EMEA at Tasktop. She is a member of the BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, and the Institute of Physics. For her, happiness is about discovering opportunities to challenge the status quo and about embracing change, be that organizational change, or professional or personal development. Tuuli’s interests outside work include art, science, and nature. Follow her on Twitter @TuuliBell or find her on LinkedIn at https://uk.linkedin.com/in/tuulibell.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *