How to Humanize Big Data to Increase Its Value?

Written By: Josh McAllister

As Big Data transforms the business world, it sometimes seems to add a sterile aspect to the business environment. Mountains of data can contain a wealth of hidden information that can drive decision-making and organizational success, but uncovering such meaning often seems impossible. 

Big Data can encourage businesses to regard customers as mere data points without recognizing the value of their humanity. Such shortsightedness can result in faulty interpretations of available data that can cause extensive mistakes.

Humanizing Big Data has become a growing trend that promises to improve the access and analysis of data while injecting the contextual meaning behind the people who generate it. Companies of every size have begun to adopt humanization as part of their Big Data strategy. As a result, the tactic has become one of the top tech trends for 2017, according to Forbes. Forbes suggests that adding an empathic view of Big Data will make it easier for businesspeople to access, visualize and interpret. 

Humanized Big Data has the power to tell and interpret stories that were previously hidden. By adding a “down-to-earth” dimension to Big Data, firms have the ability to derive benefits from their information stores without distancing themselves from the people with whom they interact. As a result, decision makers and marketers alike can improve their chances for success.

Now, analysts in multiple levels and departments of a company can draw from Big Data meaningful information that guides their work. In the past, such accessibility was available only to IT specialists. 


A 360° view


Collecting large amounts of data and connecting various data stores can help firms identify trends in their data that can reveal organizational problems, challenges and opportunities. Traditional analysis, however, relies on machine-based rules that can mislead decision-makers. Such inefficient and ineffective uses of Big Data underscore the importance of adding human perspectives to analytics. 

Companies that find ways to humanize their data help them overcome the obstacles that massive amounts of data represent. Rather than relying on machine-based interpretations of data that can contribute to faulty conclusions, businesses can now identify meaningful trends that directly affect their performance. 

Business people must understand the data that they have as well as their organization and its challenges before attempting to humanize data. Professionals with expertise in human psychology and behavior can also work together with analysts and IT personnel to help teams gain a circumspect view of Big Data.

When companies can merge available data with a practical knowledge of the way people think and act, they can improve their ability to identify relevant and actionable information. Knowing this, business owners and managers can readily interpret their data for decision-making while minimizing false conclusions and invalid assumptions. 


Understanding humans


Despite technological advances, machines cannot fully understand the nuances of human behavior. As companies collect data, they leave much of its meaning undetected, because computers often fail to understand actions in light of physical and psychological contexts. By infusing humanity into analytical processes, companies can improve the accuracy of their insights and the quality of their results. 

Viewing people and their actions as simple data points can cause companies to act based on the incomplete or erroneous information. Humans understand that similar actions can mean different things, depending on their context. The same person, for example, can do the same thing for different reasons and generate data that looks the same. In such a case, contextual meaning is lost.

Just as decisions made based only on minimizing costs can result in poor outcomes, decisions made without a full perspective can lead to wasted time, money and effort. Understanding the humans represented by Big Data gives marketers a chance to get to know their audience in ways that previously were impossible. 

Information obtained from people often has a bias associated with it that can distort its meaning. A simple analysis of data can, therefore, leave valuable knowledge undetected. Humans have judgment and experience that can augment Big Data analyses in ways that result in an unprecedented intimacy between marketers and their audience. 

People-driven data insights add a new dimension to traditional visualization tactics. By including context and behavioral cues into analytical processes, managers, analysts, and marketers can uncover important stories within their data that can give them a sustainable competitive advantage in their industry and market. 

To conclude, systems that collect, organize and analyze big data are designed by people and therefore have built-in biases and other limitations that withhold value from businesses that embrace Big Data. By introducing a human element, companies can analyze data with improved accuracy. 

Brands that prioritize the humanization of their data give themselves an important way to differentiate their brand, increase sales and achieve growth. Despite recent advances in Big Data, the future belongs to the companies and professionals who realize that their data becomes most valuable when interpreted from the human perspective.

Author info:

Josh McAllister is a freelance technology journalist with years of experience in the IT sector. He is passionate about helping small business owners understand how technology can save them time and money. Find him on Twitter @josh8mcallister

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Andre Bourque (SocialMarketingFella) is Editor Emeritus of Technorati.

He covers emerging trends and news in social, mobile, cloud, and related technologies.

Based in San Francisco, he can be contacted via his social channels and at: andrefbourque@gmail.com

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