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Sprinkles

#NuixGovSummit2019—It’s Still All About the Data

Stephen Stewart

Year after year I get up on stage at Nuix events all over the world and rattle on about the importance of being able to handle all sorts of data. I’ve talked about dark data and the 10 dimensions of data. I've told countless customers how they can embed the Nuix Engine into their analytic workflows to extract text and metadata. I’ve riffed about enriching items with 3rd part metadata—on and on…

For the most part everyone nods along. It wasn't until recently, however, that I realized how some people nod along while others want to stand and shout "Heck yeah!"

The Pain of Sorting Sprinkles

The people who nod along appreciate the difficulty and complexity of the problems that Nuix solves, but they haven't truly ‘felt the pain.’ The people who look like they want to shout out are the people who have been tasked with doing the hands-on work or parsing, sifting, and sorting the really nasty data.

I’ve struggled to relay just how frustrating this work can be. The best analogy I have is that it’s like ‘sorting sprinkles." Imagine someone dumping out an entire tub of colored sprinkles (or jimmies or whatever else you might call them) into a pile and being asked to sort it. It’s not a difficult task, but holy cow is it tedious and labor intensive!

Now imagine that you’ve been sorting for hours, you’re making progress, and someone bumps the table, scattering your organized piles. You’re essentially forced to start over.

This is the pain of dealing with difficult data. It isn't impossible to do manually, but WOW, it is painful to have to do! Manual processes, lack of structure, and errors mid-stream make the process that much more difficult to navigate.

Sprinkles
Sorting a pile of sprinkles? It's going to take time... Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Imposing Order

Many of you who have seen me present will know my "Nuix supports thousands of data types across 10 dimensions of data" slide. The funny story is that I include the slide in my presentation draft for every conference. After every review, our team removes it and replaces it with something (admittedly) more attractive—and every time at the last minute I slot it back :-).

10 dimensions of data

It happened again very recently, and I wanted to explain. The reason I’m so fixated on this slide is that for the people who have to sort sprinkles, when they see this breakdown they lean in and appreciate how powerful a piece of software is that can take all of those different types of data and with one, super-fast pass, sort it all out and turn a pile of stuff into nice, neat, organized piles.

A Little Professional Recognition

I mentioned it happened recently—our “10 dimensions” were front and center last at the Nuix Government Summit in Washington DC. We had a terrific agenda and were lucky to have former Deputy Director for the CIA Counterterrorist Center and the FBI National Security Branch Phil Mudd as a keynote. Phil is a frequent commentator on CNN regarding all things National Security who comes at this from the perspective of the CIA and FBI analyst who spent his career chasing terrorists.

The talk was great, but one of the most gratifying points was when he asked that we put the ‘10 dimensions of data’ slide back up on the screen. He commented how the breakdown really resonated, because during his career he was always striving to ask better questions of data. Without the right tools and the raw materials, he lamented that some of the most important questions often go unanswered!

Check out Phil's new book—The Head Game—and see why good data is central solving complex problems quickly. I’ve said it, and many of my colleagues here have also repeated it several times—at the end of the day, it's still all about the data. That fact was validated by our government guests last week in D.C. and will continue to be proven out into the future.