Detectives In The Office: Why We All Need To Embrace Our Inner Sherlock Holmes

Detectives In The Office

It seems that there is no end to our appetite for a good detective show. We recently witnessed the dramatic season finale of the BBC’s Luther, a gripping psychological thriller starring Idris Elba as the title character. Add this to the nation’s recent obsession with shows such as Broadchurch and Sherlock, and it becomes clear that the UK just can’t get enough of these figureheads. But is their world as far removed from the average office environment as we tend to think? I’ve given my top tips for how all office employees can, and should, harness their inner detective.

Management & Multitasking

You’ll never see a relaxed Sherlock. The archetypical TV detective ‘gets results’ on a consistent basis, yet always seems to be rushed, stressed, panicked, and everywhere in between. They are constantly required to respond quickly and efficiently to multiple sources of data, examining in detail all information available to them.

Similarly, managing multiple sets of business information and tasks is also a facet of everyday business life. While we can’t all have the quick thinking skills of Sherlock, we need tools to help manage and analyse our data, making it increasingly easy to get the job done.

No Rash Judgements

Unless they’re of the ‘act first, ask questions later’ variety, TV detectives, while stressed, always seem to be in control. Whether they’re in the lab or in pursuit, they always seem to exude strength. A big reason for this is their ability to make fast, informed judgements.

However, when faced with numerous sources of information, combined with the pressure to make important decisions, the average employee may often rush into a snap decision, as both clients and superiors begin to lose patience. There is technology to help office workers emulate analytic abilities of our favourite TV detectives, however. Business intelligence can be critical when summarising all data into one place to help simplify even the most vital decisions.

Striking While The Iron Is Hot

TV detectives rarely pause on certain developments; they are always progressing to something new in their case. Luther, Sherlock et al. are never overwhelmed with the rapid nature of their work; they have the ability to quickly analyse the data available and react to new developments as they appear.

Needless to say, this lesson is easily translated into an office environment, as employees must respond to new data as soon as they can, especially if its relevance will be short lived. Striking while the iron is hot is crucial to any business with its finger on the pulse, yet employees may find it difficult to do so in light of the challenges outlined above. A dose of their favourite detective’s tactics might be just the ticket.

Rapid Response

As discussed above, office employees are required to manage multiple sources of data and respond to client’s demands as soon as possible. One good example (albeit one a little closer to Sherlock’s world than most) is Gwent Police, who have recently implemented a business intelligence platform. While the life of a detective is probably more admin-heavy than the TV admits, the challenges faced at Gwent Police are broadly similar to both those at a typical office environment and those on Luther’s to-do list.

Gwent Police are now able to analyse data to gain a better insight of criminal activity in the area. Having formerly required Excel spreadsheets to collate and organise data, Gwent Police are now able to effectively co-ordinate resources, reallocate staff and ultimately, keep Gwent safer than they were able to before. It seems clear then, that if business intelligence can help the police respond to a demanding public, any business could benefit a great deal when responding to demanding clients.

On the whole, Luther or Sherlock Holmes would probably ridicule any comparison between their roles and that of a data analyst. However, I’d like to believe that Sherlock would feel right at home analysing large amounts of data from numerous sources and reacting accordingly if he were given the right business intelligence support. Maybe using the skills of their favourite TV detectives isn’t so far-fetched in the workplace after all. I recommend all employees follow these tips to help get ahead in business. Everyone should channel their inner Sherlock – but maybe without the drama.

Sean Farrington

Sean Farrington has been MD UK & Ireland and Regional Vice President for Northern Europe for QlikTech since July 2009. He has over 15 years experience in the business software industry, 10 of those are within Business intelligence. Prior to QlikTech, Sean was Regional Vice President and General Manager, UK, Ireland and South Africa for SAP Business Objects. He also lived and worked in Stockholm for four years whilst being responsible for Business Objects' Nordic operations. Before Business Objects, Sean worked at Crystal Decisions and Rockwell's eCommerce division, and spent 14 years serving as a Commissioned Officer in the British Army. As well as being a trained helicopter pilot, Sean also holds qualifications in Computer Science, Ammunition Technology and Logistics.