On Big Data, Analytics, and Uncertainty

Examining the relationship among Big Data, knowledge, and predictions.

I just finished Nate Silver’s excellent book The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail —but Some Don’t (affiliate link). The book is certainly in line with my own thinking about data, analytics, and predicting the future.

Over the weekend, I was thinking about Silver’s book as it relates to my own forthcoming text. I find it interesting that many businesspeople today are still searching for certainty. How many presidents, CXOs, founders, and employees want complete certainty before doing anything substantial? Whether it’s a new partnership, hire, or product launch, far too many of us are just plain afraid failure and the unknown.

As I write in Too Big to Ignore, the era of Big Data and predictive analytics guarantees nothing. On this, Silver and I are in violent agreement.

Simon Says

The era of Big Data and predictive analytics guarantees nothing.

This is tough for many people to swallow, but there’s a good chance that our analytics and predictions will miss their marks. I for one believe that many, if not most things, will only completely understood in hindsight. Big Data and attendant tools can help, but they guarantee nothing.

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