Big Data, Not Almighty Data

August 28th, 2013 by under The Smith Experience. No Comments.

The corporate world has been making a big fuss about big data.  As a result, MBA programs around the globe are making quantitative skills one of their training priorities. Us students paid tens of thousand dollars tuition to learn to run correlation, regression and hypothesis testing; we read computer generated coefficient and significance level; and voila, here comes the conclusion! What’s more intimidating, it appears that in not so distant future, human analysts will be replaced by artificially intelligent computers that run and interpret data.

However, I always believe there are certain aspects that data fails to capture. Call it random effects or whatsoever, there are things that make human beings irreplaceable.

I recently found some supporting arguments in my Consumer Behavior class. We were introduced to Clotaire Rapaille’s Culture Code theory. The French cultural anthropologist and marketing specialist has developed a unique methodology to identify the unstated needs and wants of people in a certain culture or country, and hence influence people’s unconscious decision making. Rapaille assisted Chrysler, struggling to re-position its Jeep Wrangler despite vast market research,  redefining the car from an “another” luxurious SUV to its original removable-door boldness. He stopped Nestle in time trying to get Japanese switch from tea to coffee, advising the company to create the first coffee drinking imprint among the country’s younger generation, which later evolved to Nestle’s major coffee consumers.

Then I thought of my own boutique business.  MBA has taught me to do book-keeping and cost benefit analysis. However, the buying and pricing processes are far more complicated than a few equations. The decisions are made based on a combination of factors including market competitiveness, scarcity, consumer psychology and many more.

So, quantitative is important but qualitative is what sets you apart from others.

To learn more about Clotaire Rapaille’s Culture Code, read his book!

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