The Data Trust Journey

We often say to our partners that the use of predictive and prescriptive analytics is a journey. The foundation of this journey is establishing trust in what advanced analytical approaches are telling you.

Trust takes time, even during a pandemic.

This is a fact that is prevalent in all aspects of our lives, not just data science. Even with the best approaches to modeling, even with processes that build hundreds of models through different lifecycles, even when the modeling uses the most advanced validation approaches, even with COVID-19, trust is still a journey.

It is a journey that we all need to take no matter the circumstances.


The data trust journey is the best path to answering the most pressing questions you have right now.
We have adapted to new challenges in the past. Today’s challenges have caused severe turbulence and could very well cause difficult times for several semesters. Higher education must chart a trustworthy and successful path forward using data-driven decision making.

The power of data is irrefutable and predictive and prescriptive analytics are changing everything. Those who begin their journey now will be the first movers, evolve their decision-making process faster, and see impacts sooner than those who don’t.

Here are some things to consider in your data trust journey – especially during a pandemic:

  1. Don’t Delay – It’s an old cliché that every journey begins with the first step. Cliché or not, it is as relevant in the data trust journey as in any. I like to think about it like a person’s journey through high school. In order to get to 12th grade, you start in 1st grade. Don’t let the common impediments of seemingly bad data or lack of data deter the start. All data has a degree of good and bad. Modeling can begin with a surprisingly limited amount of data with limited goodness. The first steps can help define the data collection or practices you need to get to a state that can support the subsequent steps in the journey.
  2. Explainable AI is a Must - Bruce Springsteen has been quoted as saying, “Blind faith in anything will get you killed.” That’s a little extreme, but on the converse of that, is a quote I like, “Well placed trust is one of life’s greatest rewards.” If you are going to trust something, then you need to understand what it is saying to you. Explainable AI approaches provide not only the what, but also the why. With that understanding, you can begin to see why the models are suggesting the outcomes, and you will experience well-placed trust.
  3. Baby Leaps – As I mentioned above, the data trust journey is like school. You start in first grade and progress through graduation. As you progress, you build on what you’ve learned from the year before and your learning accelerates because you have a strong foundation. The data trust journey is similar. With each leap, learning accelerates because you understand what the models are saying, and you test and analyze to validate approaches. Practice and planning lead to bigger leaps and better outcomes.
  4. Remember the Goal – The goals are not to trust models to the point where your team is not part of the decision-making process. The goal is to better equip your team to make decisions to accomplish the mission. We are far from turning over the keys to the machines, but we want the machines to help us make better decisions, even during a pandemic. This happens when you give the model’s results to the teams making the decisions in their day-to-day work activities. Don’t forget, those making the decision are on the trust journey with you, so keep them informed as much as possible.

  5. Continue to Experiment on Your Journey – The journey is not a defined route from A to B. Modeling is not static. Part of the trust journey is understanding how new or different data helps improve a model’s performance, or, in some cases, reduces performance. We are evaluating that with COVID-19. This is part of the journey - understanding how to evolve to get better over time. This comes with innovation and agility.

Back to the quote from above, “well-placed trust is one of life’s greatest rewards.” The reward is out there, but it takes a journey to get there. Don’t delay your data trust journey.


COVID-19 Resources