Why decision makers need to review data before they act

Posted by Justin Hesser on August 23, 2013

The purpose of collecting and managing data is to provide decision makers with the resources they need to make the right call for their organization. If executives are using data to confirm or support their decisions, they are thinking backwards and their organizations won't be as successful.

It's a competitive business market out there and decision makers have to think quickly, but they also have to be smart about their decisions. Let's say a marketing executive wanted to roll out a new strategy and it wasn't entirely successful. At this point he or she checks the data to confirm if it should have worked in the first place, only to discover insights that would have been able to prevent them from making a marketing mistake.

This scenario sounds improbable. Why would someone wait until after they made a decision to check if their data supported it? Unfortunately, it's more common than you might think.

An article in Investment News recently asked if data management needs more oversight. This question is supported by Erik Brynjolfsson, Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business and Professor of Information Technology, who listed several problems companies have when it comes to managing information. One of the issues is that too many decisions are made before analyzing data.

"A serious pitfall is when a manager comes to a decision using gut instinct, and then they go and tell the IT department to gather some data to support that decision," Brynjolfsson said. "It ought to be integrated right from the start."

Even though decisions have to be made quickly, instead of making them before checking information, data management systems should be designed to support quick decision making. Building a custom database software system will provide companies with the tools needed to effectively process and analyze data in real time. This will improve decision making speed while alleviating the risk of poor choices.