How to blend instinct and Big Data

Posted by Justin Hesser on February 23, 2014

When it comes to Big Data, many businesses are at something of a crossroads. They have the analytical capabilities afforded by the FileMaker service, but also have decision-making processes in place still heavily tied to instincts. In many organizations, managers are unwilling to forgo their gut feelings in favor of a conclusion suggested by a database, and in such instances wholesale changes are rare. 

One of the major hurdles is that some of the conclusions suggested by FileMaker entail dealing with the unknown. Executives can be reluctant to fully embrace this concept, because they don't often have a personal history to fall back on that suggests that it will work. Thus, they consider it briefly, but ultimately default to processes they've already seen before. 

There's ample evidence to suggest that this is the wrong approach. The key to business success is flexibility and adaptation, and a company that isn't able to move forward with the times runs the risk of being left behind. Speaking to, Guy Cuthbert, managing director at the visual analytics firm Atheon Analytics, described the potential inherent in programs like FileMaker. 

"I see a huge number of opinion-operated businesses that don't get why decisions could be made on data. I've listened to executives spout all sorts of opinions with no fabric or no substance behind them at all," Cuthbert said. "So if data animators and data scientists can do anything, it's to try and teach the rest of our peers in businesses that there are a fascinating number of facts located in their organization if they just choose to look at them."

Of course, this information is only relevant if it's properly oriented within the greater context of the business's mission and organizational goals: that's where an experienced manager comes in. 

The role of an executive shouldn't be to impede progress or to ignore the developments in technology that could help move his or her company into an industry leadership role. Instead, it's critical that a manager uses the instincts honed by a historical tie with the company to help contextualize new decisions within a greater framework. In that way, Big Data and gut feelings aren't mutually exclusive but rather eminently compatible. When used to support each other, they can help guide a savvy company to sustainable success.