Obsessed with data? It’s nothing without the human side

The drive to collect data has arguably never been stronger in the world of business, but one expert warns that founders are putting too much faith in numbers and ignoring the human qualities of their users.

Ethnographer Tricia Wong, who works with companies like Nokia to fill in the gaps left by big data sets, says too many businesses fall into the trap of trusting charts and figures without checking if the numbers align to reality.

In a TED Talk delivered last year, Wong outlines the key mistakes leadership teams make when using data, starting with her own experience working for Nokia.

Wong outlines how, despite collecting information on the ground in China and spending weeks speaking to mobile customers in different communities about their desire to buy smartphones, when she relayed her qualitative data sets to Nokia, there was a reluctance to believe the market was smartphone-ready.

The reliance on sets of big data on this topic meant the brand lagged in its strategy as the popularity of the iPhone started to accelerate across the region, Wong says.

It can be difficult for businesses to focus on small sets of opinions or first-hand accounts of users, but failure to do so can mean companies miss big trends. Read more

Emma Koehn – Smart Company – 27 July 2017