Tribune. Measuring for better management: this is the paradigm that dominates management science today. Since the explosion of the Internet, the most shared hope is that the information accumulated thanks to digital tools will help States, companies and organizations to be more efficient, to organize themselves better, to waste less.
The success of the tech giants is proof of this. Amazon’s triumph is an example: if the American company dominates its market, it is because it collects more data than the others. She would know her clients better, their behaviors, their preferences. It would therefore be easy for him to speak to them better, to offer them the most suitable products, to calibrate his promotional campaigns.
To replicate the Amazon case, companies have gotten into working order. The goal ? To become data-driven, that is, to make better decisions thanks to the data. Are they getting there? Nothing is less certain: despite huge investments in data analysis ($ 274 billion in 2020), only 24% of companies surveyed by the Harvard Business Review say they use data efficiently (« Embracing Data Analytics for More Strategic Value », 2021). What happened ?
Don’t think of algorithms as oracles
Far from the big talk about the revolutionary power of data, managers and business leaders still find it difficult to access data. You may have already experienced this. You have to follow a more or less long process in order to obtain the information you need: sales figures, incident rate in a supply chain or the carbon impact of a product. When you receive it, the data is incomprehensible: it is neither formatted nor explained. All these obstacles are so many frictions that dissuade you from using the data on a daily basis.
You put up with this state of affairs by telling yourself that data is primarily used by experts. Only they know how to make numbers speak and use their algorithms to make studies and predictions. The others do not need direct access to the data. But it would be wrong to consider algorithms as oracles. Data is only really useful when it is understood by all and allows everyone to make more informed decisions.
This is the famous “data culture” that the human resources departments of large companies are striving to build. But how do you get there without simple access to the data? “If people don’t find math simple, it’s only because they don’t realize how complicated life is. “ John Von Neumann, considered one of the fathers of modern computing, was correct in thinking that it takes complex systems to understand a complex world.
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“If nothing were done to make data analysis on the Internet more accessible, disenchantment with digital technology could become widespread”