Is Data Leading to Bad Marketing Decisions?


The Gist

  • Decision-making bias: Relying solely on data for decisions often affirms biases rather than optimizes outcomes. Seek diverse data sources to challenge preconceptions.
  • Consumer vs. producer: The impact of data varies significantly between consumers and producers, affecting decision-making processes differently based on perspective.
  • AI’s role challenged: Rebecca Haddix urges decision-makers to pose tough questions to AI, advocating for its role in challenging, not just confirming, business strategies.

A few months ago, I was researching for a blog I was writing about data-driven decisions. Regular CMSWire readers know there is a lot of information out there on the topic, ranging from pseudo-scientific research on the effectiveness of human intuition to ominous predictions that humanity will soon cede all control to AI.

What is clear, however, is that when it comes to the use of data in decision-making, analytics are too often employed to affirm preconceptions rather than optimize outcomes. Let’s take a look at some the of issues around decision-making bias.

Data Misuse: Skepticism in Statistics Healthy

The notion that data can mislead and be misused is nothing new — Mark Twain, quoting British statesman, Benjamin Disraeli, talked about “lies, damn lies and statistics.” Most attribute the quote to Twain — which is untrue, but it’s actually doubtful Diraeli was the first to say it either. My point is that whether you get your facts from a tabloid newspaper, a chatbot, or an analytics dashboard built into your DXP, skepticism is healthy.

Related Article: Are Your Business Decisions Failing Because They Are Biased?

Data-Driven Decisions: More Harm Than Good?

While I was researching opinions on the topic, an article in Forbes written by Rebecca Haddix leapt out at me. I found it refreshing for its honesty and authoritative tone — also I loved the title: “Your Data-Driven Decisions Are Probably Wrong.” Rebecca has been a technology contributor on Big Data for Forbes for nearly a decade.

Her article, published in 2020, didn’t mention generative AI at all, but the strategy and clear guidelines she suggested seemed so relevant to the discussion we are now about decision-making bias and data that I felt compelled to reach out. I wanted to know if her advice to decision makers in 2024 would be different now that the topic of AI is in every conversation.

She was gracious enough to arrange a video call with me. What follows is a summary of a few of her profound insights from that discussion. Let’s consider what Rebecca has to say about data-driven decisions, decision-making bias and more.

Related Article: 3 Ways to Reduce Bias in Customer Survey-Based Data for Effective CX

The Impact of Big Data Good and Bad — It’s a Matter of Perspective

The vast amounts of data we collect can be good or bad depending on our perspectives as a consumer or a producer. In any study you read, you’ll learn we now measure daily data creation in hundreds of terabytes a day and that rate of collection is expanding at an exponential rate.

When I asked Rebecca whether the vast amounts of data we collect is good or bad for us, her response was nuanced and surprising, drawing a distinction between the decision-making of consumers and producers. She responded, “I guess it depends on who the us is in that equation. Right? So, as consumers, we have a choice between the products created by the producers, the businesses.”

Related Article: Dealing With AI Biases, Part 1: Acknowledging the Bias

Consumers Delegate Choices, Trust Overrides Optimal Decisions

She went on to explain that consumers want to delegate to a trusted source, an influencer, or a search engine. Consumers are excited by the prospect of optimal decisions, but often that is not what they really want or need.

“Search is based on a number of factors, and marketing and SEO, that may not yield the optimal purchase decision for you as a consumer for any number of factors you don’t consider, which is why aggregate sources that people trust comes into play.” She adds, “As a consumer, we never made the optimal decisions. Having more data means that we analyze less.

“When you say us though, as the producer, the business, the creators of these products … I think more data is really exciting. As long as we’re intentional about how we’re processing and analyzing it.

“We’re kind of already at the point of saturation now with the human brain as a consumer not taking in much more. So, I’m really most excited about the rise of big data. And the impact that it has on the companies that are producing new products, whatever those are, and optimizing how we will work really, have the ability to act on more understandings of the real relationship between separate things. That’s exciting.”


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