Intuition and business decisions in the Big Data world

“Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion.” – Steve Jobs

When setting new direction or exploring new ideas, business decision makers often rely on recognizing a pattern or developing a notion that they cannot quite articulate. What they do have to rely upon is years of experience, a deep knowledge and expertise in their domain. Massimo Pigluicci, a philosophy professor at City University of New York says “Intuition is the result of your subconscious brain picking up clues and hints and calculating the situation for you, and that’s based solely on experience”. This is the definition of the best kind of intuition in the business world.

Mr. Jobs had a highly refined gut instinct. Most others benefit from the ability to capture, store and measure a flood of data (big data). This deluge of data has empowered organizations to create analytics and metrics to track behavior and predict the future with greater accuracy than ever before. We can now exploit the advantages that big data to better understand competition, customer base, factors that affect productivity, sales & revenue and to determine the courses of innovation. MIT Professor and director of the MIT Center of Digital Business Erik Brynjolfsson’s studies have shown that data driven decision making does indeed improve the decision making performance by 4-6% in productivity and profitability (ref. HBR Oct 2012).

The more data we can gather, the more sophisticated analytical methods we can adopt, the more decisions we can make with little to no human intervention. Does this mean then that intuitive decisions are not the path to success when working with mountains of structured and unstructured data?

We believe that data driven business analysis doesn’t have to be at odds with intuitive decisions making. Intuition and analysis work best when teamed together to enhance the value offered by the other. This is accomplished by utilizing tools such as Genie the intuitive analyst tool from Quicklogix. Business leaders and analysts can use its simple Google-like querying interface to build an evidence story to corroborate their business instinct.

Big data is making us smarter like never before. Complement this with the intangible advantages of knowledge, experience and yes- intuition to derive the best benefits.

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