Looking Backward, Inward, and Forward
As we return to this series, let me note that there is nothing new here. We have covered this before, only we didn’t specifically call it out. If you go back to our original article, you will see that we have been using this perspective all along. This article is here to formalize it. Note: this article also introduces an interesting correlation between the world’s of analytics and optics — a little more on that here.
Three Facets of Analytic Perspective — Hindsight, Insight, Foresight
Great analytics is predicated on perspective, but I have seen effective efforts which appeared to lack most perspective entirely. By default, any analytic effort is going to start (or focus) using one particular facet. You are either looking backward, looking forward, or looking inward (perhaps just deeper).
Most analytics begins with hindsight. Any sort of performance analysis, trending, tracking, and of course time series revolves around the investigation of historic data. Whether a week old or a century old, historic data reveals the relationships and connections of the past.
Hindsight is an important perspective. They all are, but the difference is worth noting. First off, despite popular decree, hindsight is not 20/20… unless you have perfect data and vision. Most hindsight is much more blurry. It is also quite stale. It is an important aspect of this perspective to remember. Data from the past represents the past, translating it to the present is another thing entirely.
The present is a perspective for insight. It is about deep dives and deep connections. It is the realm of states and status. It is often built upon reams of hindsight and often in support of developing foresight. Again though, the differences are quite important. Insight is current. It may not port forward or backward, but that doesn’t stop many from trying.
The most useful analytics may involve foresight. Predicting events of the future is the surest way to validate ideas of the present. Foresight is all about probabilities and projections. There is more uncertainty in this facet of analytics than any other. Looking ahead is never an easy venture.
The uncertainty comes from two primary facets of foresight. Facets within facets, if this is not reminiscent of recursion, you haven’t been paying attention. Prediction most often requires both a projected outcome and a projected time frame. Getting both correct creates a level of uncertainty that Heisenberg would appreciate.
We have looked backward. We have delved deeper. Have we gone deep enough? Of course not. We have asked important questions.
- How do we understand what has gotten us to where we are?
- How do we understand where we are now?
- How do we understand what is coming next?
These questions have a certain optics. They are a point of view. They are directional. They are not paths. The path and the progression is The Analytic Process. These facets are simply ways of developing those paths, directions for them to take (often both iterative and recursive, of course).
The building blocks of the analytic process are now set. There is plenty more to explore, but our framework is now complete, our directions known, and the steps in our path clear. As we progress our series, we will endeavor to go further, dig deeper, and build stronger connections within our framework.
Stay tuned and thanks for reading!
Gurupriyan is a Software Engineer and a technology enthusiast, he’s been working on the field for the last 6 years. Currently focusing on mobile app development and IoT.