Love and Data

by Ben Perreira

I love data. I pore over research all day, from financials about markets I’m working in to behavioral data. I love data, but I’m not “in love” with data.

The problem is not in the numbers. Numbers don’t lie. The problem is in how the inputs are administered and by whom – bias created by conducting research. 

If I wanted to make a ton of money in the next couple years I would start a firm that offers Big Data solutions to big firms. My firm would use huge amounts of data to tell stories about the way people act and predict how they will act in the future. I do want to make money, but I don’t want to be dishonest about it, and this path would be intellectually dishonest. Data needs context to approach utility.

“Moneyball” was a blessing and a curse for the use of data to make decisions. On one hand it showed how insights from statistics can create marketplace advantages. On the other hand it made it tempting to go to Big Data for all decisions. It’s easy to forget that the competition often has the same data and that the market quickly finds equilibrium again. 

The best companies today are using data without overusing data. They’re competing for the long haul over quick wins.