When Are Small Data Best Used?

29 Jun

Over the past few years, many companies and analytics experts have become greatly enamored with “big data,” now that such data are  easier to collect and analyze. [For example, see 1.]

Nonetheless, there still remain many instances when “small data” can be quite useful.

Consider these observations from Jessica Stillman, writing for Inc.:

“Ask Google how many people are searching for the term ‘big data’ and you’ll get a graph that resembles a steep mountainside. The concept has become incredibly hot over the last few years and it shows no signs of cooling anytime soon. And why not? Every day, our devices spew out an incredible amount of data on our behavior, preferences, and relationships. What could be wrong with our newfound obsession with combing through numbers for profit-boosting insights and previously unnoticed correlations?”

“The trouble according to Martin Lindstrom, author of Small Data: The Tiny Clues That Uncover Huge Trends, is when we overuse data to the point that we forget to actually talk to people. In an interview with Knowledge@Wharton, Lindstrom argues that what he terms ‘small data,’ i.e. face-to-face conversations with actual, real-life customers often in their own homes, is a more reliable source of great business ideas than massive databases and sophisticated number crunching. ‘I think it’s fair to say if you take the top 100 biggest innovations of our time, perhaps around 60 percent to 65 percent are really based on Small Data,’ Lindstrom claims, citing breakthroughs ranging from the idea for Snapchat to the resurgence of Lego as examples of the fruits of small data.”

 
Click the clever image to read more from Stillman.

CREDIT: Getty Images

 

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