It's been said that data provides a view of what's already happened but it cannot inform smart enterprise decision unless it is combined with executive judgment, perspective and experience.
That may be common sense to most global business leaders. Yet if one considers the potential impacts of 'Big Data', crowd-sourcing, AI and viral consumer trends, the threat of being swallowed up in a sea of data is a reality for many executives charged with making big decisions for their organisations.
With the pressure for results more acute than ever before, it would be easy to sit back and let data and data analysis point the way when what's really needed may be a carefully balanced, ongoing and detailed review of data followed by a pause so clear, decisive human decision-making can be engaged.
So what's required of global business leaders in the age of unprecedented amounts of data?
- An appreciation of data's potential as a tool for revelation and discovery, and, at the same time, an understanding of data's limitations.
- A conscious decision - really, a commitment to oneself as a leader - not to be bound or incapacitated by copious amounts of data, no matter how slick, interesting or sexy it may seem on the surface.
- A commitment to focus on time. That is, not to spend too much valuable time overanalysing data or contemplating how one might act in the face of such data points. Rather, to stand ready to invest just enough time to understand the data and just enough time to consider the non-data variables of a given business challenge or market opportunity.
We are living in times in which technology has made our lives, communications and work more convenient and collaborative than ever before. And there are more tools at our disposal to make sense of market trends, consumer behaviours and strategic options.
Let's take those and use them to their full application, while at the same time reminding ourselves that the call of global leadership is a call to step back, digest the data at hand, and apply all that we know and have learned as managers to apply sound managerial judgment to make the best decisions.