With all the hype around big data, there is a misconception developing that more data is a good thing. This is wrong. Wise leaders of business intelligence and analytics initiatives understand that data is like a dead chicken. Once data is collected, it becomes a problem. It must be organized, reviewed, managed, updated and eventually discarded – all of which requires a thoughtfully designed plan. It requires effort and work. The energy required to administrate information of dubious value is just not worth it.
This leads us to two best practices:
- never collect data you don’t plan to use
- when you do decide to collect data, use it quickly before it gets stinky
For those who believe that more is better, this advice may not be well received. We’re conditioned to think that having more information, more ideas will give us a wider range of options to chose from. The leader of an analytics initiative thinks that the more parameters they measure, the better the decisions they will make. The leader of an innovation challenge thinks that the more ideas the campaign generates, the more successful it will be. Both are harboring a false assumption. Collecting data from multiple social media sources and tracks a myriad of metrics costs money, both in terms of a vendor’s product offering and the effort required to analyze it. Unless you a absolutely clear about the decisions you want to make and the input required to make them, the investment will be wasted. Experience tells us that the most successful innovation campaigns are those that are narrowly scoped and thereby produce fewer – but more actionable – ideas.
Using data before it gets stale and stinky is also important. This means there needs to be attention to both the collection of (theoretically) useful insight and its disposal. Many organizations make the mistake of keeping everything, forever. A wiser approach is plan to discard information at the time it is collected and stick to the plan.
Data is like a dead chicken. And unless it is used, it quickly becomes an albatross.