How to Make Data Useful

Dimond, R. How to Make Data Useful.

Today’s technology makes gathering data easier than ever, but technology can’t guarantee it’s the right data or that you’re using it the right way. In this session we’ll talk about how to make data useful.

One key is to identify how you will use the data before you start gathering anything. What question will the data answer? How will it answer it? There’s a big difference between “I should keep track of how busy our servers are” and “I need to collect data on how often user jobs are being slowed down because there aren’t enough cores available on our servers, so that I can decide if we need to buy more servers or not.” In this session we’ll talk about how to get from the former to the latter.

Another key is to understand what kind of data you have and use tools that will help you learn from it. Averages are great for quantitative data that are more-or-less normally distributed, but can miss important insights or actually lead you astray if thoughtlessly applied to other kinds of data. In this session we’ll talk about the kinds of data you’re likely to run into.