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 information, particularly given that almost all trendy companies aspire to be data-driven in each technique and execution. Certainly, over the past decade or two, information has change into nearly universally thought to be a key company asset and a necessary enter to high quality decision-making. 

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

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

What efficient information 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 information 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 immediately—why wouldn’t it pertain to information? 

Considering firstly when it comes to context, it’s straightforward to see what number of information practitioners change into enamoured with their analyses and stories, and are blinded to extra mundane concerns like relevance and impression. The sort of poisonous positivity stems from the concept information is the only real (goal) reality and is subsequently unassailable. Overconfidence in your information 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 widespread sense and expertise in equal measure. In a flashback to my administration consulting days, information is used to show or disprove the speculation, not the opposite means round. 

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


In latest months although, a extra insidious menace to decision-making integrity has emerged, within the type of Generative AI options, and extra particularly their consumer interfaces. The challenges with AI are each many and well-identified, and embrace an absence explainability, poor transparency, and variable information high quality to call a number of. Much less clearly, a “positivity” downside now presents itself after we contemplate 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 constructive toxicity: enticing, straightforward solutions which can be offered as compelling and “proper” solutions are the straightforward choice for time-poor analysts or passive perception customers. This downside is far tougher to unravel, primarily as a result of Generative AI has such broad applicability, with no clear signature of its utilization.

Likewise, with none means of realizing if solutions are proper or fallacious, customers will naturally lean in the direction of the trail of least resistance. Sadly, as soon as headed down this path, it is rather arduous for them to show again. 

To get probably the most worth out of your information, 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 best information, thoughtfully utilized, can illuminate a call with new potentialities. Relatively, it’s to spotlight one of many fundamentals of analytical follow which has at all times existed: perceive what you are promoting first, and solely then search related and thought of insights.  

Your corporation doesn’t exist to “eat insights”; it exists to fulfill buyer wants whereas producing earnings. The duty of stewardship falls to the considerate information 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 will solely provide you with solutions.” The enlightened chief (and analyst) spends time asking “why” the analyses matter—they don’t cease at “what” the info 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 basic instance of this behaviour. 

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



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