With the rapid ascent of data in corporate decision-making, is there any room left for managerial discretion? Absolutely, Wall Street Journal business columnist John D. Stoll writes in this column.
At least in part this is because data is valuable but imperfect.
Stoll cites Google chief decision scientist Cassie Kozyrkov, for instance, who warned in a Harvard Business Review article last June that data “is malleable and can be distorted to conform to pre-existing biases.”
Yet, increasingly, the world’s business thought leaders and icons are turning to data for answers to important business questions.
Stoll cites Amazon’s Jeff Bezos as a prime example. “Companies wanting to work with the e-commerce giant know not to make a pitch without abundant data to support their claims,” he writes.
Stoll cites management consultant W. Edwards Deming, who famously said “In God we trust. All others bring data.”
While the need for managerial intuition still exists and will likely never dissipate completely, 21st century business is setting up to be driven increasingly by data, and this data is increasingly available and valued in our technology-driven era.