The quest for an improved understanding of our inner workings is reflected in organizations as well. Like individuals, organizations have access to large amounts of performance data thanks to emergent technological advances. However, as is the case with Quantified Selfers, more data does not always translate into improved organizational performance. A culprit to this issue is the lack of strategic planning to data application. For instance, Tufekci (2014) cites methodological and conceptual challenges as barriers to meaningful organizational data interpretation. Tufekci specifically investigated the interpretation of qualitative and quantitative data in a social media context and found that methodological issues and questions of inference are two major issues when interpreting big data. This is supported in a review by Rasmussen & Ulrich (2015), who argue that a focus on actionable, high impact analytics can lead to improve organizational performance.
The authors indicate that a strategy that focuses on the business problem (i.e. focus on the challenge at hand and not a serendipitous finding), integrates multiple business components (e.g., investor perspective, human capital, technology, etc.), and succinctly focuses on intervention and change initiative (and not a point of view) can lead to organizational improvement. The authors state their claim by discussing the case study of an offshore drilling company, where qualitative and quantitative data collected to improve leadership was strategically implemented to make a compelling story for the business audience and buy in into a change management initiative. These articles make it clear that for data to be meaningful, it needs to be relevant to the context and the application for which it is being used.
There is no doubt that at either the individual fitness level or at the large scale organizational level, data has the ability to transform the decision making process by providing an ample view of the status quo and the art of the possible in making lasting performance changes. However, the degree of success in making changes based on data holds true as long as a strategy or plan is crafted so that the information provided intertwines with the challenge at hand and integrates relevant factors leading to the intervention.
Big data is a major force in our everyday lives.
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