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Guidance and results for the data-rich, yet information-poor.

The Fallacy of Big Data

It's going to take more than a mess of information to solve real business problems.

It’s going to take more than a mess of information to solve real business problems.

Everybody’s excited about “big data.” Organizations all over the world are leaping on board the Big Data Bandwagon, and are eager to see what it can do.

There’s just one problem. “Big data” isn’t exactly what you think it is. There are a lot of problems with the term, and those problems lead to misconceptions that keep you from making the most of your organization’s data.

“Big Data” is a marketing term.

There’s nothing new about predictive analytics. The science has been around for decades.

Big data has just been the particularly successful marketing term that has catapulted predictive analytics into the consciousness of the mainstream. But sooner or later, “big data” will start to lose steam. What will happen then?

Marketers will still need to sell predictive analytics software. So they’ll make up another term. The new term might be just as successful or it might fall flat, but it will still be a new name for the same science.

You need to know this, because it will keep you from making silly decisions. You will not, for example, leap to buy the most expensive “big data” software package on the market when you know that people have been performing many of the same functions in boring old Microsoft Excel for years and years.

“Big Data” assumes that bigger is better.

In truth, bigger isn’t always better, and “big data” can often mean “having more data than you know what to do with.” Many organizations need to master small data before they start messing around with big data…and many of your insights are going to come from sample sizes that represent only a small portion of the data that your organization has been collecting.

Stop worrying so much about big. It’s more important to shift your mindset about data. Gathering more and more data can’t help you until you’ve started asking the right questions. Namely: what problem are we attempting to solve by delving into this data? Everything else has to flow from that mindset.

Don’t ignore your data. But don’t romanticize it, either.

Yes, your data does have a lot to tell you. TMA wouldn’t be here if it didn’t.

You just can’t afford to get swept up into the hype. Data is just a tool, a tool that you will hopefully use to discover solutions to some of the problems that your organization is facing.

Data, and what you can do with it, is not magic. It is math. And when you recognize that, you can approach it as a mathematician would, which means ignoring all the hype. Instead, get laser focused on creating a data analytics program that will be truly useful to you.

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