For so long, the foundation of the CEO’s empire has been experience. They have risen to the top, learnt as they went along, and they lean on those who have learnt alongside them. They have had enough information at their disposal to make what they saw as informed decisions, but, even so, many of them run their businesses with their gut rather than from a spreadsheet. The best leaders “feel” their business, they have an instinct for it. Occasionally that instinct is proven incorrect, but they are happy to take those percentages.
The emergence of Big Data is now allowing CEOs to increasingly base decisions on current “reality” rather than past experience, but the risks in the integrity and fullness of the data that they are “seeing” and “hearing” is often a barrier to getting a clear picture of what is actually going on.
In the past, they have had direct access to whatever data they were looking at and could consistently form their own opinions. The complexity of Big Data initiatives is now starting to change that, and far too many business leaders are taking the results for “gospel” rather than understanding how they were arrived at.
As insights make their way up the corporate ladder, from the data scientist to the CEO, the truth in the data can be lost along the way. Assumptions are made, but never fully communicated. The failure of those assumptions is never entirely quantified. What should take three hours to explain properly is limited to a ten-minute slot at a board meeting.
Big Data should not be “dumbed down.