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Why it is important to avoid the trap of blindly following the data?

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Data has always been crucial for any management decision. However, in the last few years, data analytics has taken center stage in decision making with various tools and software available for data analytics. Various research and data analytics firms like Gartner, Forrester have flourished on the basis of data. They collect and analyze data to prepare impressive reports that are put for sale at hefty prices.

As a student of statistics, I read that don’t rely on data blindly as data can be misleading. It is the analytical mind when applied to data that matters. Only then can it convert to valuable information and applicable knowledge. However, recently after reading one such data analysis report from one of the reputed internet marketing company, I was forced to think how these companies use the data for arriving at deceiving results and if the brands follow their tips (yes, they gave certain tips), then wouldn’t they be wasting their efforts and resources.

The report in discussion is 62 social media tips from around the world by Hubspot. When I saw it, I was naturally inclined to read it but, sooner jumped to the tips for Indian brands willing to optimize on their social media efforts. The report indicated that the top social networking websites in India are Facebook, LinkedIn and Orkut in that order. Now, this information was a shocker to me as Orkut was the first social networking website to which Indian Internet users were exposed to. But, a bigger shock was awaiting for me when I read that the report suggested the brands in India to focus on Facebook and Orkut.  We all are aware that Orkut is a dead bet and Google has come up with another Social networking site GooglePlus already. The active Orkut users are very less and declining every day. The report had completely ignored Twitter. I researched a little more on Internet and found that in active user numbers, Twitter is the third in rank. In fact no report was talking about Orkut. In a report by SAP India, where data was derived from examining the social web for the period Feb 2011 to Feb 2012, Twitter was ranked first for buzz with great margins from second social networking website Facebook.

Clearly there is a stark difference in the suggested focus for brands, between various research and data analytics agencies. I sent a tweet to Hubspot not to suggest such deceiving tips to the brands.

However, they did not reply to it and they are one of the renowned internet marketing companies of the World, dealing in most sophisticated tools for social media marketing.

There are two simple takeaways- for the analytics companies, and the brands.

In the days of automated analysis tools, still it is the human brain which gives meaning to the data, so data analytics companies should use that in order to bring out the analysis reports which are useful for the user and hence for them in long run.

If a brand just follows the analytics reports from these so-called great analytics companies, they will end up wasting their resources and losing on the business. Therefore brands need to open their eyes and see whether the past reports and forecasts of these big companies have given the desired results or not. If not, then they should not rely on such companies for taking small to big business decisions.

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