“Sure we can figure that out.” I heard myself saying. “But again, what exactly will you do with that information?”

There was a commonly held belief in the tech industry in the early 00’s that if we could just get all the information in the world out to people it would all somehow work out for the best. Turns out the results were… mixed.

This belief still persists, and has a tendency to wreak havoc on analytics systems. The idea that more data is automatically superior causes an escalating series of problems for both the system and the business. First, on the technical side, constantly increasing volume of data reporting leads to unmaintained systems. If reports/dashboards/tables are only ever added and never removed, the system itself will constantly decrease in reliability. The effect is similar to household that never throws anything away. Eventually you can’t find what you’re looking for amidst a deluge of things you never use.

In the business side, the deluge of data also leads to a paralysis in decision making. Instead of insight, we get overwhelm. In this situation, politics and convenience overtake the data as the driver of decision making.

If instead of blindly adding more data to the mix a decision was made during the outset that “We are looking for ‘X’ and we plan to reduce metric ‘Y’ by doing these things” then you can genuinely claim to be data-driven. Anything less is just data hoarding.