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HBR: Time to Temper Your Team's Blind Faith In Big Data

In "Help Your Team Understand What Data Is and Isn’t Good For" Harvard Business ReviewOctober 12, 2018), Joel Shapiro notes the key limitation of "big data": While it can help you understand large-scale trends, demographics, and patterns, it doesn't tell you why those large-scale trends, demographics, and patterns exist. 
For that you'll need to get your hands dirty, and actually deal with people: "The only way to discover the 'why,' says Shapiro, is to engage with them in qualitative research such as interviews, focus groups, and observation." 
But even those methods are limited, Shapiro points out. He gives the example of customers waiting by the side of the road for help when their cars break down. While in the past that annoyance might have turned them off to auto club membership, nowadays they can distract themselves with their phones--and the waiting might not seem like such a big deal. 
Where does that leave the researcher? Notes…

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Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal is an author, independent brand researcher, and adjunct marketing professor with 20 years of varied experience. An avid researcher and prolific, creative writer, Dr. Blumenthal's interests span communication, marketing, qualitative media content analysis, political rhetoric, propaganda, leadership, management, organizational development, and more. An engaged citizen, she has for several years worked to raise awareness around child sex trafficking and the dangers of corruption at @drdannielle on Twitter. You can find her articles at Medium, and, and she frequently answers questions on Quora. All opinions are Dr. Blumenthal's own.