Too often I hear people discussing the terms “big data” and “data analysis” to infer that all data is meant to be taken as correct. Over the past decade we have moved from a rearview mirror to a forward thinking notion in that we must now be able to predict what is going to happen and focus less on what has happened. In a panic, we simply assume that by going back to the data we can make a knowledgeable decision based on once again, data. The problem with this mentality is we are giving up one of our greatest advantages…instinct.
What exactly is an instinct or gut feeling on something? How can we quantify this and make sense of it all when we are surrounded by mountains of data?
Clearly we are on a data overload that hasn’t been witnessed before and we are struggling to make sense of it all. Should we look at persons social media accounts to better predict if they will default on a loan based on whom they follow/repost/favorite? Maybe but what if we went on instinct? Data isn’t a universal truth when you start peppering in instincts with algorithms. What if that person whom was tracked, analyzed, characterized and pushed aside wasn’t actually embedding a single source of truth in their social media accounts but simply electing to be a different person online vs. offline? Will the data show you the difference between what a person perceives as instinct vs. emotion?
These are not simply questions to answer or even wrap your mind around. The data is wrong, the data is wrong! When’s the last time you heard that? It might not be as simple as good vs. bad data but we shouldn’t forget that our instincts are here to stay, have always been here and certainly aren’t going anywhere. I believe the real power comes when we can take the right data (by no means am I advocating what “right” is) and mix it with a little bit of instinct down in our gut to create the perfect recipe for making an educated decision.
The next time someone tells you to look at the data, don’t forget to look into your gut for the icing on the cake because in the end no one likes an unfrosted cake!