Solving the First Mile of Data: Tip #1

When is the first mile the hardest part of the journey? When you’re trying to get your data up and running. “By the time you’re analyzing data, you’re actually many miles down the road,” explains our CEO Philip Brittan. At BattleFin Discovery Day 2018, a conference for investment firms and data providers at the Intrepid Museum in NYC, Philip shared three important tips to solve the first mile of the data challenge. See Philip’s advice to gain value from data in this new three-part series on our blog.


Tip #1: Think holistically about how you’ll find, evaluate, and make use of data.

Before you can use data, you need to find it and evaluate it. So think holistically before you start working with data. Create a repeatable, reliable, auditable process that’s easy to scale, and follow this process consistently whenever you find and evaluate data. It’s helpful to develop modular elements which you can apply to different datasets as needed.

To find out which datasets are right for you, you need a set of standards you can use to judge them fairly. Create a set of criteria for evaluating new datasets and determining whether they’re useable and useful. Apply the same set of criteria to different data sources to compare them and make the best decisions.

Consider these factors to find out if the data you’re looking at is useable and useful. Data that’s useable has integrity: it’s not messy, it doesn’t have holes, and it doesn’t require a lot of extra work to prepare for analysis. Useable data shows up on time, doesn’t experience frequent outages or operational issues, and doesn’t require you to chase a vendor to find updates or resolve challenges. Useful data contains a signal that can give you business insights or help improve your models. Data that’s useful is also independent: it delivers information you can’t get from other sources.

Abstract the underlying methods you use to find and evaluate data so that you can evolve them over time. If you rely too much on buying or building new technologies to solve data pain points, without thinking holistically about your process, you may find yourself back at square one when the technologies you rely on become obsolete.

To stay ahead of the first mile challenge, focus on constantly learning and improving your process. Keep track of lessons learned over time so you don’t have to solve the first mile again and again!

Excited to learn more? Check out Tip #2 on the Crux blog next week. To see more insights now, click here to watch Philip’s full presentation on “Solving the First Mile.” 


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