It’s hard to find a business these days that isn’t somewhere along the
path of becoming ‘data-driven’. Very smart.

Being data-driven is the new paradigm. Using the word ‘paradigm’ is
the old paradigm.

What I mean here is that the term ‘data-driven’ risks being considered
an essentially meaningless business buzzword.

Every decision ever made was driven at some level by data. If data
doesn’t influence a choice, then that choice is not called a decision.
It’s called a complete guess. Businesses that run on guesswork don’t
stay in business.

Have you ever seen a dog catch a ball in its mouth? To pull the catch
off successfully, a dog needs to calculate the arc of flight the ball
is travelling on, its rate of descent, its speed through the air, and
then work out how to position itself to be in the right place at the
end of it all. Just some simple Newtonian physics... all worked out by
a dog.

All the decision making going on in pooch’s head is based on applying
current observations with knowledge acquired through previously
observed data points, from having seen things get thrown and from
trying to catch them. Once the dog figures this out, it’s done. No
complex equations are ever needed. The dog just uses experience. And
it works.

Some decisions that are based on experience are not optimal. But not
every decision made based on a plethora of numbers (ie. the ‘big data’
approach... buzzword alert!!) will be optimal either. Sure, running a
business is a bit harder than catching a ball but the point is that
the value of data will always lie in the interpretation.

Numbers are meaningless without interpretation. Data is meaningless
without analysis. The best insights and analysis comes from a position
of experience and contextualisation.

Data can drive a business in the complete wrong direction if the
analysis or application is faulty.

A ‘data-driven’ business should not be one where the numbers alone
rule. It should be one where data and information are used in
combination with business acumen and experience.

Any business that is up and running is already generating numbers.
Managing a business requires paying attention to the numbers... and
making decisions based on them. Taking an even closer look at some
data would likely yield insights that could strengthen and complement
the decision making processes already in place, helping to drive even
better results.

You have the numbers and data, you’re making the decisions. To make
sure those decisions are the best they can be you don’t need to
overwhelm yourself with stacks of new additional data but you should
see what fresh insights can be found in what you already have.