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Why data needs a human touch

Big data is only as useful as the human decisions behind it says Paul Cash, CEO of Rooster Punk

The expression ‘big data’ is so overused that many people no longer know what it means. The most common interpretation of big data is the methodical analysis of huge volumes of information to find underground audience trends and behaviours.

But why is it that as data grows and automation and segmentation technology advances, we aren’t making smarter business and marketing decisions? Even though just one per cent of the world’s data is currently being analysed (according to the International Data Corporation), data analysis alone isn’t enough. Not everything that can be counted counts. We won’t necessarily always find value in data, but that’s where humans and critical thinking come in.

Marketers need to focus on human decision-making as much as technology in order to adopt a more balanced approach to marketing. Humans are completely irrational and unpredictable, whereas data is the opposite. It’s humans that come up with the big conceptual ideas that bring people together.

But these big ideas still need substance, so using solid and trustworthy insight alongside human-orientated thoughts can be powerful. Employing data-based analysis, whereby you’re looking
at the evidence and applying human judgment, will enhance your marketing decisions and make you feel less like you’re making them alone.

We all know from personal experience that when data is treated and used recklessly it can lead to low-quality and baffling outcomes. Just think of the times you’ve been spammed with emails about a discount at a restaurant that’s 100 miles away or received a list of recommended music you wouldn’t dream of downloading. Make sure you use data wisely, because data unmediated doesn’t always represent reality. Data usually tells us about the past, is often incomplete and is totally subjective.

Smart decisions start and end with humans that promote a culture of data-driven decision-making. We can’t prevent all flawed decisions, but we can promote a strong appetite for data in conjunction with human thinking without damaging brands or alienating customers. And finally, it’s important to remember ideas unite people, while data separates them. Which one is more critical to your company is for you to decide.

Data Skills Benchmarking Report 2016-17

Data now dominates the agenda of many B2B marketers. But do marketers really have the right skills to use data to its full potential? In this brand new research project we surveyed over 200 B2B marketers to find out.

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Data Skills Benchmarking Report 2016-17