We are moving into a world where the amount of data we are generating is becoming the star in the decisions we are making.  Netflix is making content based on what people are telling them they want to watch.  Politicians rely on data for what the people want to hear.  Products are being created based on data.  Need I go on?

I read somewhere that 90% of the data that we rely on has been created over the last two years.  Bloomberg did the research and came to the conclusion that he could not win the Presidential race.  Looking at who did win, I wonder if the data was actually correct.

I recently met with a founder who has a really smart idea in the food space.  His partner was someone who had never been in the trenches of the food space so he did a deep dive into the data.  He kept repeating the data back to me as if there was no room for error.  He came up with the valuation of the company (and more) based on data. He had it all planned so perfectly based on all his research but I didn’t agree with his analysis because my expectations were based on my experiences which are personal data points.

My brother and I were talking about this.  He said, “people are not as predictable as we think”.  I couldn’t agree more.  I love data but it is one point among many and sometimes even though all the data is pointing in one direction does not mean that it will end according to plan.

I want to believe that content could be made based on data but on top of that are real people with creative minds and we all know it isn’t that easy to just make good content.  There have been politicians who have come out of nowhere because they decided to run regardless of all the data pointing in a different direction and lo and behold, they won.

Data is great but it is not the end all be all.

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    The thread of my career through every new platform change is hiring the best data scientist for marketing then making the decision on what to do, informed by them, but ultimately by my sense of people, brand and the market.Informative and critical certainly. Not the end game in how I work.

    1. Gotham Gal

      not the end game

  2. LE

    A good example of data gone wrong is what I call ‘white men changed their mind…again’. This is when ‘white men’ [1] do or review some medical study which concludes some fact that is irrefutable (at the time) [2] only to be overturned years later by another group of white men with a new study that often invalidates or comes to the opposite conclusion.[1] And they are always white men. That you believe, know and trust it seems (with gray hair and impeccable credentials)[2] As you said ‘He kept repeating the data back to me as if there was no room for error. ‘

  3. Bryce T.

    Data is just another data point. Should be considered, and could be right, but not always the answer.

  4. ET

    Yes, data by itself is only great if you’re continuing to do more of the same activity that you measured, and not much is changing in your environment.But for many of the interesting questions we face in business and society — new ventures, new candidates — we don’t really have data on the situation we’re trying to evaluate, we only have data we can gather that might indirectly give us some clue or insight. And if one is using consumer or political surveys, the results of them are notoriously fragile. (Some folks in political surveying weren’t completely surprised by 2016, knowing full well that a percentage of voters were hiding their real preferences. Brexit, anyone?) So we try to test new ideas early and often with real users, but the conditions of those tests can often miss an important and unknown variable or an emerging trend in the market…

  5. Jodie Hopperton

    I’m chairing a conference on this in New York next week: https://newyork.bigdatamedi…. If you have Qs for any of the speakers, let me know. I’ll be writing up a a summary afterwards too.