2020 Foresight: Is Much of your Big Data Lost in Presentation?

2020 Foresight: Is Much of your Big Data Lost in Presentation?

Mark Laudi 04/11/2019 5

If the 2010s were the decade of cloud computing and big data, the 2020s will see a torrential downpour. Already more than 20 billion IoT devices are contributing data. Smart cities will add to that, as will Enterprise Content Management and Machine Learning. These will threaten to drown business leaders that have to derive insights and plan strategies based on veritable oceans of data.

Big data is worth little if you can’t derive business outcomes from it. Therefore, how that data is presented also has to evolve. Analysis automation, conversational analysis and augmented analytics will become essential, but these will not absolve presenters in corporate boardrooms everywhere from making the data more accessible. All too often, data is presented as an end in itself. Presentations featuring charts, graphs, or even live dashboards usually leave open the questions of “So what?" and “Now what?”

In my experience, part of the reason for that is the often-contradictory nature of data. It often doesn’t align. There are always outliers and exceptions to the trend that could make or break the trend.

Take, for example, the discussion around rising methane levels in Barren (now called Utqiagvik) in Alaska. The chart seems to show unequivocally that atmospheric concentrations of this potent greenhouse gas are rising at alarming rates. Commentators are freaking out over the trend:

Much is being made of a graph depicting changes in methane concentrations at Barrow Alaska and a recent supposed spike over the last year:

Let's catch our breath for a moment and put this in proper scientific context.


(thread) pic.twitter.com/OYsQYCKCwk

— Michael E. Mann (@MichaelEMann) September 14, 2019

But read through the assessments and the picture becomes less clear. When did the trend really start? Is the scale at the left of the graphic implying a doubling of methane levels when actually they are up “just” 15%-20%?

As big data pools coagulate to become megadata (not to be confused with metadata), it will become more and more difficult to read patterns into the picture, to infer conclusions and plan how to respond.

It’s not enough to undergo a PowerPoint course to excel at creating nice-looking slides of charts and graphs. Can you find meaningful patterns that deal with exceptions, false positives and counter-trend data? Are you able to make the data come alive for your audience? Can you communicate inferences from the data, leading to business decisions? Do your audiences leave the room with answers to the two critical questions they all ask. Our data communications workshops ensure megadata actually leads to substantive, well-founded and real business outcomes. 

Do you have 2020 Foresight?

The 2020s. If you’re like me, you would have considered this decade to be too far off to contemplate. Long-term government planning reports talked about the 2020s. Authors set their science fiction novels in the 2020s. The 2020s were a mirage.

Yet here we are, just weeks away before we catch up with the future.

In this series I look at five key trends likely to shape the new decade.

  1. Climate change and the switch to live video and webcasts – But will anyone pay attention
  2. How to be the best human you can be in an AI world – You can't be anyone you want to be, but you can be the best of who you already are
  3. Can you prove your CEO didn’t say this? – Deep fakes, guerrilla media, and the blurred lines between fake and real
  4. The rise of Megadata – If you thought death by PowerPoint was bad now, just wait until you drink from the data hosepipe
  5. New threats make crises inevitable – Drones, cyberattacks, climate change all make for the crises of the future

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  • Paul Taylor

    A cultural shift toward data-driven decision making continues to drive demand for big data.

  • Sylvia Clough

    Big data is going strong and poised to make even bigger strides in delivering eye-opening insights.

  • Frank Garcia

    Since data storage is easier, businesses are not leaving anything out.

  • Wesley Shipley

    Big data is incomplete without quantum computing.

  • Robert Grubb

    Data lakes have to live up to their promise or else they will fall by the wayside.

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Mark Laudi

Media Expert

Mark Laudi is a media and communications mentor with 24 years of expertise in the media industry, including mission-critical B2B communications, crisis communications, public speaking and presentation skills. Besides mentoring business and political leaders worldwide in media skills, public speaking, and conference presentations, Mark is a much-sought-after speaker, conference anchor, and panel moderator at business events. He conducts master classes in media and presentation skills as well as crisis communications workshops for senior executives at a large number of multinationals in Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Mark also possesses expertise in investor relations and invests in online startups that cater to the needs of SMEs.

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