Why data is (not) king.

Big Data and Kanban Google search intensity (2004–2015).

We are living in a world where everyone has heard the term Big Data. Even though major part of the experts do not even know what Big Data means, companies have (luckily) started to measure and produce data. Data crunching is THE trend. But what is data, actually? Data is one or multiple dimensional values from an even more dimensional reality, verification of the past, or as some would call it, the rear view mirror.

One of the most typical uses of data are different analyses. Take UX-design for example, the process is somewhat like this:

1. Make two different versions from a “Buy now” button (A/B test)

2. Measure which one leads to a better outcome

3. Imply that the conversion rate is bigger with the sharp edged button.

As we discussed above, data is verification of the past, iterative rolling. Still, it is really, really hard to make profound projections out of the data, just like it is really hard to guess the true form of an object just by looking at its shadow. The worn out phrase “you get what you measure” is amazingly accurate here. The maverick of behavioral and psychological economy Dan Ariely gets to the point quite well in his Harward Business Review article. Data enables you to verify the direction of your progress, but it does not tell whether you are on the right track at all. The picture below explains the concept.

Mountains of progress. Which one are you climbing?

With all the available data, it is harder and harder to make wrong decisions. It also means that everyone tends to make the same “right decisions”. In the world of strict business processes and reports, where employee is just a middleman to spread the data to the next process, meeting or application, there is not enough room to explore and discover.

At the time being, not a single computer has made a breakthrough innovation. Because of this, I encourage you, dear reader, to take deep breath, close your computer and open the window for your intuition and breath in some new radical thoughts.

This article was originally posted on X Heads Blog.

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