Can you have too much data?

Yes. I think so ?

For those who remember the days of telephones and telephone directories(especially if you lived within Greater London) that filled an entire bookshelf. Here was a mass of data, which you probably accessed , and I am grossly over estimating, a fraction of one per cent of the data available,during any one year. Moreover that information was out of date the day the directory was printed.

Well jump forward a generation and just take a peak of the following stats….

Everyday …..

294 billion emails are sent

65 billion WhatsApp messages are sent

3.5 billion online searches are made

90% of the last 5000 years of humanity’s data has been created within the last twenty four months. Are we benefiting from it ? At this very moment in time , I would err on the side of No.

Having said all this, businesses grow, develop and prosper by accessing and analysing as much information as possible ……”information is power”. Yet there is a ‘but’. It is the efficient and effective analysis that makes it of any use. Too much data creates confusion, inefficiencies and above all can lead to poor or just downright ‘wrong’ decision making. But we still have to make those decisions and I feel that many organisations, ironically especially the larger, misinterpret data, quite simply because there is too much. I, also, suggest that this is one of the current problems of our supermarkets . They have had a cumulative mass of data over many years and failed to properly decipher their customers psychology and behaviour. Other leaner, newer and sharper players have made better use of their information consequently have a much better understanding of the shopper and their behaviour.

Every day decisions become increasingly complex by the quantity of data available in making those decisions. A visit to any coffee shop is a perfect illustration…what milk would you like?semi-skimmed, full fat , lactose free, goats milk, vegan milk ……? Ok , thanks and which blend….there are twenty seven if you would like a quick look at our blend menu, which is on the other side of our syrup flavouring menu….

Fake news, albeit much clichéd, has been around a long time . In years gone by, there have been many occasions when all aspects of the ‘then’ media exaggerated or used bogus or ill researched facts to back their stories. But today there is so much access to data you would think it easier to verify fake news, yet the opposite is true. When questioning one piece of information there are so many potential sources that if we were honest with ourselves we don’t know whether the source we feel is the ‘most genuine ‘ is indeed genuine or fake.

Yet things ain’t going to change. Or rather they are, in so much as the amount of data will increase exponentially.

The following 2 images are taken from a report by PWC (Price Waterhouse & Coopers)

So what about us ‘littl’uns’. No one gets away with this. Supplier, independent retail, online, and even Jo Public. We have to develop our own coping and analytical methods. It’s as simple as suppliers working out that just because they sell a hell’uve lot of an item that it is a bestseller. It is the retailer making use the most efficient use of their epos systems, looking at social media and being aware of what is really happening out there. It is the consumer understanding what is a deal and what is not. Being aware of ‘influencers’, is the product they are being offered on a web site, what they think it is and do they really know where it is coming from.

Very recently a retired member of the Bank of England Board, was caught by a telephone scam. Although, retired he believed he was pretty clued up on all manner of scams. Yet, the information being given by the scammers seemed genuine. But it wasn’t and he got fleeced straight from his bank account.

Our mobile phones are said to hold more data than early spacecraft. Yet they were able to talk to earth from outer space. Sometimes, I can’t use my phone at the back of my house. In 2014 when NASA launched their Mars probe it had less computer power than your mobile. ‘Why is that?‘You may ask. Answer is quite straightforward. They planned for reliability over performance. Probably says all you need to know.

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