Is there too much data?

August 3, 2010
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I was reading back over some old blog posts, and came across this quote from Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

I was reading back over some old blog posts, and came across this quote from Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

Intelligence about baseball statistics had become equated in the public mind with the ability to recite arcane baseball stats. What [Bill] James’s wider audience had failed to understand was that the statistics were beside the point. The point was understanding; the point was to make life on earth just a bit more intelligible; and that point, somehow, had been lost. ‘I wonder,’ James wrote, ‘if we haven’t become so numbed by all these numbers that we are no longer capable of truly assimilating any knowledge which might result from them.’ [italics mine]



I see this phenomenon often these days; we have so much data that we build models without thinking, hoping that the sheer volume of data and sophisticated algorithms will be enough to find the solution. But even with mounds of data, the insight still occurs often on the micro level, with individual cases or customers. The data must tell a story. 


The quote is a good reminder that no matter the size of the data, we are in the business of decisions, knowledge, and insight. Connecting the big picture (lots of data) to decisions takes more than analytics.