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  • Writer's pictureNicky Finlay

Myth-busting common misconceptions about data

When you read articles or blogs you are often led to believe that data will solve all your problems or answer all your questions.  

The word codswallop comes to mind! 

This is one of many myths about data that we will address here. Let’s take a look at this, and other misconceptions, and do some myth-busting of our own.

Data will provide the answers

Data itself is inanimate.  On its own, it doesn’t do anything.  The power to provide answers comes from how the data is used.  It is the skill of the user to work with the data to extract the answers and transform them into something useful.  

The user is usually a data specialist such as a developer, analyst, scientist, or data strategist.  However, we advocate everyone becoming more data literate to both brief data professionals competently to get the required outputs right the first time, but also to confidently work with data outputs, reports, and analysis to inform decision making.  This skill should be in our everyday life to question and identify the sought-after answers, and not be dependent purely on specialists. 

Technology will provide the solutions

Similar to the myth above, technology is also inanimate.  Its impact comes from the development and application of the software to fulfill the business’s needs.  For instance, if you want to build the next best action model within your technology, you need to ensure you have the technical skills to code and QA the model which can then be programmed to run in an automated way.  Technology doesn’t do it on its own. 

The best way to think of technology is as an enabler.  For example, what do you want your customer experience to be and how can technology enable that? You can then work out what technology is needed. Whilst we appreciate that not everyone will be an expert in technical developments, understanding the capabilities in terms of business applications is incredibly helpful in getting the most out of your tech investments. 

Tech teams know everything about the technology platforms 

Platforms evolve rapidly, and cloud-based services mean there are often ongoing updates and new releases to platforms so data and tech teams are always learning.  In many instances, when a business licenses a new technology platform, its technical teams have to learn about the platform for the first time whilst building the instance that the business will use.  So if you go to your tech team with a question or a use case, they may well need to investigate the capabilities of the platform first before advising you on what is possible. 

All data is created equal

We have heard the phrase “data is the new oil” many times over the years, and will undoubtedly continue to hear this in years to come.  However, it is important to recognise that not all data is created equal.  Some data will be more valuable to your business than other data.  Storing and processing all data, irrespective of its value and use to your business, is not efficient from a cost perspective or a sustainability perspective (think of all the wasted CO2 emissions storing and processing unnecessary data). 

Start by understanding your data landscape, what is captured and stored, and how it is used.  This will help identify the valuable data in your organisation, share knowledge on what this data is and how it can be used, to aid understanding across the business, and ensure efforts and finances are in the right places. 

You need a humongous budget for tech solutions.

There are over 8K technology platforms that store and present data for BI, Marketing, and Sales purposes which have as vast a price range as they do solutions available. So no, you do not need a humongous budget. Once you have an idea of your budget and requirements, you can start to shortlist the potential vendors and get a clearer understanding of the costs involved in the setup and ongoing running. 

Data is a powerful source, with actions enabled through technology, but neither is a magic wand.  Actions and decisions won’t happen automatically.  Business users need to understand what is available within the data, what actions are possible with the technology, and how these best support the business goals.   The more you increase your data literacy, the more able you are to myth bust and ensure the outputs you can get from your data and tech help you achieve your business goals.


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