back to article A big ask for any nerd, but going outside (your usual data sets) can be good for you

So, you want to be data driven. About time too. It amazes me to watch companies basing their forecasts on experience, assumption and instinct when their storage area networks are teeming with data that they could use to make what they do more scientific. It seems obvious that you would use the data you hold to make your …

Anonymous Coward

Gave me a laugh

Pretending that this is in anyway scientific or that the stats mean what you think they mean or that they are even comparable.

I'm sorry but the truth is that this area of the market is all about cooking up some justification to do what you were going to do anyway. You find out the CEO would like to expand into the German market so you cook some figures telling him what a great idea that would be.

Always fancied a trip to Australia? Cook up some figures to suggest your company should setup shop there....

Marketing and the like have always been the same, it's just that the current fashion is to sink a lot of money into "data mining" or "big data" etc to justify the latest crackpot idea!

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Re: Gave me a laugh

"Pretending that this is in anyway scientific or that the stats mean what you think they mean or that they are even comparable."
So what do you suggest? Ouija boards, reading sheep entrails, crystal balls, navel-gazing?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Gave me a laugh

A lot of companies where I've worked have found naval-gazing to be the best alternative :-)

More seriously, I'd suggest not throwing too much money at the latest fashions and in my experience common sense and concentrating on having a good product work well... along with knowing your product and your market which usually come with experience and fairly basic research.

On the other hand this kind of BS data mining, large data sets etc. works really well for separating fools from their money......

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Re: Gave me a laugh

"So what do you suggest? Ouija boards, reading sheep entrails, crystal balls, navel-gazing?" - probably cheaper and just as inaccurate.

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"Unsurprisingly the raft of data available from the US government (http://data.gov/) would keep the nerdiest number-cruncher occupied for longer than is strictly healthy."
Er... d'you think that's what caused me to get congestive heart failure?

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Anonymous Coward

When using data sets regardless of whether they are your own or someone else can be broken down to the simple question of "What do you want it to show?"

Objectivity doesn't exist when using data sets, it's determined by the person asking the question.

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"Objectivity doesn't exist when using data sets, it's determined by the person asking the question."

Yup and that becomes glaringly obvious when they hand you "raw data" consisting of an excel spreadsheet summarising "stuff" and then obstruct access to the real raw data.

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The opticians example could be taken the other way. If there are few NHS eye tests and few opticians, surely that would be a better place to open an opticians because the market is not being served.

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Drowning is a sea of 'data'

'Big Data' and 'data mining' as presented are nothing more than buzzwords to salve the clueless PHBs why their competitors always seem to clean their clocks. Understanding your product and your likely customers is conceptually not very difficult. But takes some clear thinking with some data analysis to understand how both are related. The problem is that many are substituting aimless number crunching for analysis. Analysis uses number crunching but is not number crunching as a good analysis goes beyond numbers to try to understand behavior and needs.

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Re: Drowning is a sea of 'data'

"Understanding your product and your likely customers is conceptually not very difficult."

Even in businesses which do both well, only about half of ventures tend to succeed (at best).

If it's done with wildly inspired guesswork then the figure is much lower.

It's a bit like drilling for oil. Wildcatters might find something (about 1 in 10 by the 1970s) but if you crunch the geological datasets and pay attention to the results, your chances improve somewhat - (about 1 in 4 in the 1970s).

The reason I chose the 1970s is that I suspect the actual functionality of the data and knowledge of how to use it for business is akin to the geological knowledge of that period.

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"Ask" is a verb.

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""Ask" is a verb."
Also a noun: "1886 ‘Cavendish’ Whist 127 When your three comes down in the next round, it is not an ask for trumps."

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