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Andy Leonard

Andy Leonard is an author and engineer who enjoys building and automating data integration solutions. Andy is co-host of the Data Driven podcast. Andy is no longer updating this blog. His current blog is

It’s About Delivering Value, Stupid

James Carville coined the phrase, “It’s the economy, stupid,” as part of Bill Clinton’s 1992 US Presidential campaign. I’m not fond of the “stupid” part. But I have also never successfully advised a governor to become President of the United States by unseating an incumbent President who enjoyed a 90% approval rating earlier in his presidency.

I am fond of delivering value. In fact, that’s a major tenet of Linchpin People’s culture: Deliver Value.

It’s Raining Value

There’s value in the cloud. How Microsoft helped this bar figure out that vodka was costing it a fortune is an interesting article for many reasons. It’s a good case study highlighting some interesting technology, and that’s reason enough for you to take a few minutes and read the article.

For technology professionals, though, there’s an important lesson here: Do not describe your career in terms of an application (or even a technology), describe your career in terms of your value proposition to the organization. My friend Buck Woody (blog | @buckwoody) has written extensively on this topic. Buck’s series on how the cloud changes different jobs in our industry (How Does the Cloud Change a ______ Job?) is a must-read for data and IT professionals, in my opinion. In other articles, Buck recommends changing how we describe ourselves, calling ourselves “data professionals” instead of “database professionals.” It’s more than just semantics, it’s really about describing our value to others – particularly the others who impact our salaries.

Watering vs. Flooding

It is not good enough to simply identify value, one must apply identified value.

And, it is not enough to simply apply identified value, one must apply the identified value with a proper and profitable response.

The value raining from the cloud can wash away organizational gains as easily as it can foster and improve them. An example is found in the How Microsoft helped this bar figure out that vodka was costing it a fortune article:

To give the bar staff an incentive to be more accurate, the owner set up a private server to monitor their activities in secret; the bartenders who consistently poured 1.5 ounces every time would get to keep their jobs, the others would be fired.

No! that’s not what the article says at all! It really says:

To give the bar staff an incentive to be more accurate, the owner set up a competition; the bartender who got the closest to consistently pouring 1.5 ounces every time would win a trip to Hawaii. Everyone had access to Power BI -- in the browser or using a Windows 8 tablet app -- so they could see how they were doing, and how the competition was stacking up.

“Wait, what? Win a trip to Hawaii?!” Yep. I can hear you thinking, “Why would the owner spring for a trip to Hawaii as the reward?” The answer is found a few sentences later. The competition worked and “the bar is getting closer to clawing back $2,500 a month in revenue.” I checked and a trip to Hawaii for two can cost about $5,000 for hotel and airfare. Throw in expenses for a few outings and it can easily reach $7,500 or more. Let’s say the bar owner covers that amount – $7,500. That’s three months of the improved bottom line (at $2,500 per month). After the three months, the owner pockets the additional profit. That’s pretty good business – everyone wins.


Properly applying insights from business intelligence is at least as important as identifying insights in the first place. That’s one way to deliver value.


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K. Brian Kelley said:

Exactly. Useful data applied with a solid business principle at the right time results in a better business.

August 12, 2013 1:51 PM

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