Some disciplines in the past would choose to exempt themselves from anything involving numbers. It may have worked before, but definitely does not work now. Right now, data runs everything and has grown to become a trillion-dollar industry.
What is data?
When people think of data, the first place their mind goes to is numbers. This isn’t a wrong assumption to make. Majority of data we come across on a day to day are numeric (Quantitative).
Another subset of data exists, and this is the qualitative. This refers to text-based data, things that people would not even think of as data. But companies pay millions of dollars to collect or purchase. Examples of qualitative data are your tweets, buying decisions, websites you go to, what you click on said websites, etc.
Why is Data Important to Managers?
As a manager, your job is to make high quality decisions. Making decisions based on gut feelings alone is nearly impossible to justify to other managers or your board of directors. Every major decision has to be based on data, no matter the industry or the people affected.
It is very difficult to argue with solid data. People can discount how you feel about a decision, but valid data is very difficult to disregard. With companies becoming global and markets becoming more complex, data is really the only way to wrap your head around it all.
How Did Data Become So Important?
Data has always been very important, with people who controlled it gaining what seemed to be an unfair advantage. The only thing that changed over time, was the introduction of the internet. Now corporations could gather data from customers all around the world, easily and in the early days of the internet, without their consent.
As the ease of getting data increased, it created new jobs dedicated to understanding and translating this data. Data analysts and scientists were taking data and, in some cases, manipulating consumers to favor their company’s products.
Why You Should Be Careful with Data
Data is capable of doing a lot of good, but can also cause a lot of harm if used incorrectly. Once everyone one started to understand the significance and importance of data, it didn’t take long for people to find ways to lie with data. We won’t cover the ways people lie with data, but what I would recommend is not just accepting all data you receive. Even data from credible sources can be manipulated to tell different stories.
What the Future Holds
Data will continue to rise in importance. The only thing that would change are the laws surrounding how this data are obtained and what can be done with it. Governments are starting to understand the dangers of corporations having a monopoly on some forms of data. Everyone at some point has been convinced by that well-placed advert or link to a store you have been thinking about. It wasn’t a coincidence; your data was studied and they knew what you were likely to fall for.
Data will always be around and will continue to stay valid, it is our duty to understand it, no matter the fields we are in or the work we do day to day.