Home Business Intelligence Beware the Poisonous Positivity of Information: Why Context Issues

Beware the Poisonous Positivity of Information: Why Context Issues

Beware the Poisonous Positivity of Information: Why Context Issues


Poisonous positivity? That appears a bit harsh when speaking about knowledge, particularly given that the majority fashionable companies aspire to be data-driven in each technique and execution. Certainly, during the last decade or two, knowledge has turn out to be virtually universally thought to be a key company asset and an important enter to high quality decision-making. 

That mentioned, the rising significance of information as an asset has resulted in vital overheads being required in its safety. Whether or not we’re speaking about safety, regulatory obligations, or just knowledge integrity, it’s clear that there are many dangers and concern related to knowledge.

In current occasions the idea of information as a legal responsibility has additionally raised its head, albeit normally when it comes to its strategic worth, and what may occur if it was compromised ultimately. The prevailing analogy right here modifications from “knowledge is the brand new oil” to “knowledge is like uranium,” each highly effective and harmful. Savvy knowledge practitioners now realise that governance, whereas by no means horny, has taken on a brand new and heightened significance. 

What efficient knowledge practitioners know: context issues


But that’s not fairly what we’re speaking about right here. For me, the concept of poisonous positivity being utilized to knowledge takes two varieties: context and presentation. Likewise, the broader idea of poisonous positivity is a social assemble that appeals to standard tradition and the zeitgeist of at present—why wouldn’t it pertain to knowledge? 

Considering firstly when it comes to context, it’s straightforward to see what number of knowledge practitioners turn out to be enamoured with their analyses and studies, and are blinded to extra mundane issues like relevance and impression. Any such poisonous positivity stems from the concept knowledge is the only (goal) reality and is due to this fact unassailable. Overconfidence in your knowledge and algorithms breeds an unwarranted certainty across the insights and might yield fatally flawed choices.

The answer to this downside is to take care of a wholesome scepticism in the direction of prima facie solutions and to use frequent sense and expertise in equal measure. In a flashback to my administration consulting days, knowledge is used to show or disprove the speculation, not the opposite approach round. 

An AI wake-up name: at all times query the trail of least resistance. 


In current months although, a extra insidious risk to decision-making integrity has emerged, within the type of Generative AI options, and extra particularly their person interfaces. The challenges with AI are each many and well-identified, and embody a scarcity explainability, poor transparency, and variable knowledge high quality to call a number of. Much less clearly, a “positivity” downside now presents itself after we think about the shape (or presentation) of AI’s responses—they’re delivered in such a prescriptive and authoritative method, as to silence any debate on their worth or correctness.

Right here is the place the foibles of the know-how have a tendency in the direction of optimistic toxicity: engaging, straightforward solutions which might be offered as compelling and “proper” solutions are the simple possibility for time-poor analysts or passive perception customers. This downside is way tougher to unravel, primarily as a result of Generative AI has such broad applicability, with no clear signature of its utilization.

Likewise, with none approach of understanding if solutions are proper or flawed, customers will naturally lean in the direction of the trail of least resistance. Sadly, as soon as headed down this path, it is extremely laborious for them to show again. 

To get essentially the most worth out of your knowledge, always remember the basics.  


The assertions above aren’t meant to query the worth of information, or data-driven decision-making for that matter. The fitting information, thoughtfully utilized, can illuminate a choice with new prospects. Slightly, it’s to focus on one of many fundamentals of analytical follow which has at all times existed: perceive your small business first, and solely then search related and thought of insights.  

Your corporation doesn’t exist to “devour insights”; it exists to fulfill buyer wants whereas producing income. The duty of stewardship falls to the considerate knowledge practitioner who understands how insights help the creativity, productiveness, and tenacity required for enterprise success.

To paraphrase Pablo Picasso’s well-known quote from 1964, “Computer systems are ineffective, they’ll solely offer you solutions.” The enlightened chief (and analyst) spends time asking “why” the analyses matter—they don’t cease at “what” the information says. Most frequently, this behaviour manifests itself in affirmation bias, the place leaders latch onto insights that merely reinforce what they wish to consider. The continued public debate surrounding local weather change is a traditional instance of this behaviour. 

Poisonous positivity comes within the type of the engaging soapbox spruiker standing on the nook, telling you they’ve all the attractive solutions (regardless of the query could also be). At Domo, we wish to encourage “knowledge curiosity” inside our prospects—and it’s by no means been extra necessary. 



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