Analytics + Judgement: Perfect Together

faber collegeLast week I read an interesting article called The Three Most Dangerous Words in Business (The Data Says) . It challenged the use of data in some decision making.

Is that BS, and merely a yearning for yesteryear, or is a it a warning to stop, think about the data and its application.

We now live in a world where analytics rules. That applies to business, life, and even sports. “Knowledge is good”, as it said on the statue at the fictitious Faber College. (PS: If you don’t know what Faber College is, stop reading and watch Animal House, a personal fave.)

But can data be misleading? Is “Figures don’t lie, but liars figure” truth? In reality analytics are powerful and provide critical information to decision making.

For many years I worked in the ad business. If there ever was a “squishy” industry where multimillion-dollar decisions were based on judgment that was one. The industry has changed dramatically from yesteryear, but there are still elements of marketing that are hard to quantify. In fact, in measuring the power of speculative ideas I think that’s where measurement falls down. Familiar, derivative ideas always “test well” while uncomfortable ones that are outside the comfort zone do not.

Yet I always yearned to better measure the effectiveness of marketing and with serious analytics tools one can better create programs with strong ROI. The key is measurement, and “What Gets Measured, Gets Managed”, as Drucker said.

But save a corner of your brain for judgement too.

PS It drives me crazy that today’s major league ballplayers can’t bunt. They don’t need to because analytics says bunting to advance the runner is not a smart strategy. Maybe for crappy bunters—but Brett Gardiner is the exception. Every bunt he lays down is a potential hit or error on a rushed throw. So much for analytics.

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