Is Faster Decision Making the Same as Better Decision Making?

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Anyone exposed to product marketing materials from vendors in the business intelligence (BI), enterprise information management, Big Data, or analytics platform spaces would be familiar with typical “value drivers” for high computational or data access performance. One particular benefit that is often prominent is the promise of “faster and better decision making,” although the precise wording of the concept may differ slightly here and there.

Anyone exposed to product marketing materials from vendors in the business intelligence (BI), enterprise information management, Big Data, or analytics platform spaces would be familiar with typical “value drivers” for high computational or data access performance. One particular benefit that is often prominent is the promise of “faster and better decision making,” although the precise wording of the concept may differ slightly here and there. And in relation to the growing interest in accumulating greater numbers of massive data sets to be subjected to analysis and report generation, there is always going to be a demand for increasing system performance, either through the use of more computing resources (such as analytical appliances that employ massive parallelism) or better and faster access to data (through innovative techniques for reducing data access latency).

There are certain benefits to improved system performance: reducing the time it takes to execute the queries used to generate a report, reducing the time for computing analytical results, supporting a growing constituency of (simultaneous) business intelligence users, or enabling a more diverse mix of analytical activities (such as canned reports, ad hoc queries, and Hadoop applications all running at the same time to support different types of users). Each of these considerations has discrete measures and targets: time to execute, count of users, or diversity of analytics, for example.

Qualifying “Decision Making”

Yet in the context of business intelligence and analytical reporting, when it comes to decision making, you might ask a question: do organizations ever monitor and measure their decision-making performance in terms of either speed or quality? Even more to the point: are decisions that are made faster presumed to be any better than those decisions made at a slower pace? If the answer is yes, then promoting a product because it makes your decision-making process faster is desirable, but if there is no correlation between speed of a decision and its quality, the claim is ingenuous at best and irrelevant at worst.

Do you agree? Visit this blog again on Thursday, when I’ll flesh out this quandary by outlining some potential characteristics of the various types of decisions and then infer timeliness expectations with respect to the quality/effectiveness of the decision-making process.

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