Data Devoid of Context

Sept. 28, 2010

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Stock market indices have become the new barometer of economic health, it seems. How many of us are looking to see "how the markets responded" to any sort of action out of Washington these days? How many of us check the charts each morning or each evening?

There's certainly nothing wrong with following markets, especially those in which we're vested, but there is something to be cautious about when our decisions are based on short-term fluctuations in data.

Equipment managers are finding similar frustration as they continue to use telematics and on-board diagnostics systems to monitor the health of their fleets of construction machines. As one manager explained to us recently, there's a difference between telematics and the data produced by on-board diagnostics systems.

Telematics transmits the data. It's the simple,in theory at least, process by which the data from each machine makes its way into whatever management system the fleet operation uses. In January, Mike Vorster illustrated the data flow in "Three Keys to Making Telematics Work."

The data, according to this manager, cause problems when they come in fast and furious through e-mail and cell-phone alerts. Often, he says, these alerts are not actionable, that is, they lack the proper context to determine whether it's a problem that needs immediate attention or not.

This constant flow of data differs from the trend data that managers must track by machine, machine type and even by fleet. The frustration of having to deal with numerous alerts each day distracts from the need to plan and execute machine-management programs.

As with the stock markets, the immediate can detract from the long-term. Lack of context can lead to decisions made without full knowledge of the situation and even full understanding of the outcome.

Other managers, we presume, have this same problem. If you'd like to share your solutions, or add your take on the situation, visit our group in Construction Equipment.