Monday, 3 September 2018

You can do magic

One of the strangest phrases to have crept into the marketing vocabulary in recent years is "data-driven insights." Now, I'm not keen on "insight" with the added "s", but it's the contradiction between "data-driven" and "insight" that I find tricky.

Firstly, there's the implication that no human mind is involved, that the data is crunched or analysed in a machine and the insights (sic) are churned out at the other end.

Then there's the suggestion that the insights are somehow superior in quality, and possibly more robust, as they come from data, rather than being plucked out the airy-fairy ether.

And wrapped up in all this is assumption that these superior insights, untouched by the human mind, represent absolute truths.

The few "data-driven insights" I've seen have been blindingly obvious statements which have nevertheless been backed up by an analysis of gadzillions of data points. But having that back-up somehow imbues the finding with a tremendous weight and importance that it wouldn't have had if some planner person had simply stated it.

AI is only so good at recognising patterns in data. To me, the skill of the planner is to combine rational thinking with other modes of perception - be it intuition, experience of the senses or the emotions. It's all of these combined that add up to true insight. And just because we can't measure something, or gather squillions of data points on it doesn't mean it's not important.

As the author Phillip Pulmann eloquently expresses in this article, a touch of magic belongs in our world.

1 comment:

Sue Imgrund said...

What they don't know - that world you live in your head - which is rich and extraordinary: https://idler.co.uk/article/adam-curtis-social-media-is-a-scam/