Harvard Business Review recently published a series of articles on Big Data, with this article discussing how management needs to change its decision making process.
The article makes a lot of good points, but as discussed in his new book, The Signal and the Noise, Nate Silver reminds us that we need to think. This HBR blog post cites his book while making a similar argument.
In my experience, it takes someone knowledgeable about the industry and the organization, as well as an intense curiosity and urge to experiment, to realize the potential of Big Data. Anyone can identify relationships between data points, but it takes real incite to spot the most relationships that will reduce risk or increase revenue. Data can help winnow the options down to something manageable, and even strongly push you in a direction, but it always requires thinking to bring it the last mile and to monitor the relationships on an ongoing basis. Cause and effect is not static, never mind that it’s rarely simple. The influencing factors today are gone or altered tomorrow. And you can be left wondering why your master plan backed up with all your amazing data and models, didn’t come to the rescue.
You can find a review of The Signal and the Noise here.