There’s a quote going around on LinkedIn at the moment, by the noted American management consultant, W. Edwards Deming:
“Without data you’re just another person with an opinion”
There’s another more recent variant on the theme, by Jim Barksdale, former CEO of Netscape:
“If we have data, let’s look at the data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine”
I am in no way qualified to disagree with either of these individuals, but both of these quotes now seem very dated to me. It’s true, that without data you are blind. But today, most organisations are suffering from a surfeit of data, rather than a shortage. What is missing is not data, but the ability to generate insight from that data – and that is a very different problem all together, with a completely different solution.
If you are one of the diminishing number of individuals or organisations who lack data, the solution is comparatively straight forward: Work out where the data that you need lies, and find a cost-effective way of collecting it.
If you are one of the increasing number of individuals or organisations who are struggling to make sense of the ever increasing volumes of data that are available to you, the answer is slightly more complex – you need to invest in a combination of people and technology which can transform that data into insight.
The difference is not trivial.