[Translate to English:] Saint Elmo's Big Data


Big Data: Acting by Numbers?

12. August 2019, Hubertus von Lobenstein

"We need more data to decide that!" An increasingly used sentence. And big data delivers. After all, the monitoring specialists can finally make our customers glass. Tell us what they do, with whom, where and why. A secret no longer in times of big data. But will more data offer the desired success?

If aliens are reading along

The valuable findings big data can bring to light are shown in a case from 2015. In the summer of 2015, the American football team the Washington Redskins moved into its training summer camp in Richmond. And wanted to prove to the city, what immense PR value that held for them. So several monitoring companies for social media have been tasked to evaluate how many people read the accompanying press articles during the entire training stay in Richmond. 
At the end of the camp, everything was put together in a nice report volume. The total number of readers reached in this regard probably left more than just the inhabitants of Richmond on their knees in awe: 7.9 billion so-called unique visitors. 
7,900,000,000 unique visitors – what an impressive number! Especially when you consider that the total world population was 7.35 billion at that time. Of these, only about 44 percent (3.23 billion) had Internet access. That leaves only one conclusion: The remaining 4.12 billion readers must have been aliens. They've probably been thinking about going on vacation in Richmond ever since. Or of establishing American football as a trend sport on Mars.

Big data as a basis for decision-making?

Is there not something completely different behind the demand for more data? Such as trying to get out of your own insecurity with even more data and artificial intelligence. After all, data is not made out of thin air, but from facts. And is as such a supposedly solid basis for decisions. More facts = better basis?

The bad news is unfortunately that data provides information. Meaningful and meaningless. And more data only provides more information. Then you know even more about a problem. The real solution is more data but also not. Most of the problems that surround us are solved by common sense, big ideas and – not always with data – the courage to implement them. People who dare to jump, even if they do not always know exactly where to land.

So if the next big data report with lots of pages and numbers on your desk leaves you a bit helpless again, then take comfort in the first place: Without big data and the many chic metrics, you would not know that out there is not just Captain Kirk and the Enterprise, but more than 4 billion football-interested aliens are on the move. 
And now think of Einstein. The same information was available to thousands of scientists at the same time. But Einstein had something that everyone else did not have. Einstein had the creative brilliance to see what that information actually meant. And then turned the data into a brilliant idea. So trust the Einstein in you instead of more data.  And then jump into it courageously!

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