There is so much power in data. It has the ability to tell stories. In one of our class sessions someone said, “data doesn’t lie”. This concept interested me, especially because decision makers, businesses, and other organizations heavily rely on data. It needs to be factual in order for these entities to run smoothly. While digging deeper into this ideology, I found that data, in fact, does not lie but it also doesn’t tell the full truth. This is because although data is factual, the way people go about collecting the data and telling a story may not encompass the truth (2). Data collection can be bias. For example, in a clinical trial, the results of each participant will be factual, but the physical participants will be the controversy. The bias would be if there were more males than females or if the age ranges were drastically different, etc. Because of the biases the conclusions of the trial could be thrown off.
Data can also be misleading because people need to understand it’s a metric of where you’ve been, not where you’re going (3). In the GAP case study, the big question at hand was if the company can rely on big data as opposed to a marketing director (4). The answer to this varies by company. In most cases, for a company to understand where they are going, an individual is necessary to interpret and make decisions based on the data presented. This is supported by the DIKW pyramid (5). The hierarchy explains that:
- Data – raw facts, figures
- Information – facts captured at a specific moment
- Knowledge – interpreting what the information means
- Wisdom – Making a decision based on findings
Data based systems can obtain and store concrete information. It takes a human to be able to interpret what it all means, draw conclusions, and make decisions. There is so much more involved in the decision-making process besides the statistics and numerical information. An individual can take into consideration the brands personality, the longevity of trends, and more.
With this being said, do you think companies can rely just on data? Do you think data lies? Have you had an issue where the data collection process led to false conclusions?
- Image created by Kassi Jata
- Lisa MichaudLisa Michaud is the Director of Natural Language Processing (NLP) at Aspect. She has been centrally involved in the integration of NLP components into Aspect’s product suite for customer engagement and the architecting of our Interactive Text . “Data Doesn’t Lie – But It Doesn’t Tell the Whole Truth.”Aspect Blogs, 24 Jan. 2017, blogs.aspect.com/data-doesnt-lie-but-it-doesnt-tell-the-whole-truth/.
- “Data Doesn’t Lie… But It Doesn’t Tell the Whole Truth.”ForbesBooks, 11 Sept. 2019, forbesbooks.com/data-doesnt-lie-but-it-doesnt-tell-the-whole-truth/.
- Harvard Business Publishing Education, hbsp.harvard.edu/download?url=%2Fcourses%2F793377%2Fitems%2F517115-PDF-ENG%2Fcontent&metadata=e30%3D.
- “Data, Information, Knowledge, and Wisdom.”Data, Information, Knowledge, & Wisdom, www.systems-thinking.org/dikw/dikw.htm.