We live in a world awash with data, yet despite this business decision making is slower than ever. Why is this so?
So much of the ‘data’ that we are awash in, is questionable in terms of its validity to the ‘line of inquiry’ under investigation, as well as its capacity for people to reliably make informed decisions. Moreover, so many business are looking at the same studies and making decisions on generalised data – that really only has value as information, rather the informing serious business decisions.
The reticence of businesses to make decisions is due to the fact that it is difficult to make ‘assured’ decisions with poor data. Have you observed how many of the studies out there as ‘freely available’ and apparently ‘reputable’ – rarely provide details of the research design, let alone the sample? Who were the respondents, were they actually from the relevant population for the study, was the sample size large enough to conduct a reliable analysis to provide meaningful insights?
A further problem is that the rigor and science required for good research has been ‘dumbed down’ significantly over the past 10 or so years. With so much data out there, what seems to get peoples attention is the ‘headline’ describing the research. This coupled with clever editorial to describe the ‘results’ in a sensationalist manner, has served to take peoples attention away from the one thing that is most important with data – the science and rigor with design and the data collection behind the ‘research’.
If businesses actually had parametric (assumes the data can be applied to a normal distribution which means the sample is relevant) research data from well designed and conducted studies, their decision making would be so much easier. With robust research studies the level of ‘confidence’ that can be applied to the insights from the data is of the order of 95% – which is reassuring odds. Much of the data in these generalised studies is passed off as parametric data, when in fact it is non-parametric (cannot be applied to a normal distribution and therefore the sample is questionable in terms of relevance to the study).
Therefore much of the research is in actual fact ‘feedback’ which is of course interesting and useful as information, but to confuse it with rigorous scientific research data is fraught. Business indecision is a testament to this, no one wants to stick their neck out and make a decision based on ‘feedback’. However, most people will make a decision when they have confidence of the order of 95% in what the data is saying.
Joe McDonald has more than 30 years experience as a researcher and an Organisational Psychologist and founded Market Metrics 25 years ago. Market Metrics has stood the test of time due its adherence to unwavering quality with research and data collection. Costs may vary, quality never can. www.marketmetrics.com.au