What you just cannot expect from Data

Tuesday 17th, May 2016

One of the big buzzwords today is Data.

There is this huge euphoria for anything data-driven, anything related to data and data technology. And rightly so! Data, when harnessed in the right way, is powerful. But here are some misconceptions that just have to be cleared up.

  • Data cannot predict a definitive future – Yes there is predictive analytics. And yes, it has the capacity to garner all the data available to make predictions. And those predictions can be even touch the high nineties when it comes to accuracy. But a 100 percent? Nope!
  • Data cannot find a creative solution to your problem – that is never going to happen. The one thing that can find a great solution to a problem is creative human intelligence. No statistical data or algorithms can come anywhere close. Data won’t solve problems. People do!
  • Data is not powerful by itself – what you do with the data? That’s where the power lies! Databases can do zilch for you if you don’t know what to do with them.
  • Data doesn’t do that great with contexts – you have the facts. You have the numbers. But you don’t have the connective tissue. And human decisions are all about the connective tissue. So when you have a bunch of numbers, spend some time and think about what links it all together…
  • Data definitely can’t solve non-quantifiable problems – when there is a context, like there is, in all human behavior, data is helpless. What data can do, is present you with choices – it can even tell you what is likely to happen if you pick any of those choices. That’s about it. But when there is human emotion and motives – data is stuck
  • Interpreting Data is not easy – Admittedly there is data. Tons of it. But that only means that there is a greater chance of confusion. There is a lot of dirty data that has to be removed first. And then there is the data. It takes a special skill to ask the right questions in order to then interpret and make sense of all this data.
  • Data is not going to help you every single time – having data in your hands is truly a great thing. And when you know what to do with the data and make sense of it, which is even better. But there are things that go beyond the realm of data – human behavior, again! Or trying to figure out if there was life on other planets!

All this is not to say that data is not a wonderful thing! It most certainly is! In the right hands, with the right kind of skills to work on it, the right kind of tools to derive insights from it and the right kind of expertise to work on it – the results can be staggering.

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