After the usual glazed-eyed response when people hear that I write about analytics, business intelligence and other “concepts” they get a clearer understanding when they hear “It’s all about proof.” Mining data, analyzing trends or text and other exercises are merely tools that deliver the evidence or facts that enable decisions. So the whole exercise is about getting the details, finding the unseen trends or asking the right questions that needs answering. On a recent trip to Vermont, the concept got as clear as the blue-sky mountain top view and in the unlikely business of furniture making. Lots of companies say they use a “cradle to cradle” approach, emphasizing sound environmental policies from the sourcing of raw materials through manufacturing even to the disposal phase of their products. And no amount of detailed analysis can make a polluter into a “green company” if you can find some flaw in the end-to-end business model.
At his furniture studio in an old mill building, designer Charles Shackleton and Vermont Natural Coatings invites people to the Naked Table Project, where they could create a functional, small table that represents their vision. Sugar maple trees – 80 to 100 years old — are cut down and sawn as raw materials about six months in advance of the workshop. So where are the analytics?
To PROVE the project’s social responsibility, Shackleton provides GPS coordinates for trees that are being planted to replace those harvested for furniture – not just a claim, but an offer to go see for yourself. The GPS coordinates are attached to finished tables to record the location of trees taking their places in the Vermont forest. That is all the proof any doubter could need to prove the sustainability, and close a credibility gap.
What proof are you giving your customers that an environmental or cost-saving policy is more than just a claim or a goal but uses open data and ongoing details as proof? And are you rewarding their efforts to join the causes you support? This can be another way of putting analytics to work, showing doubters that you mean business.
Spotfire Blogging Team
Image Credit: Microsoft Office Clip Art