Big Data and human decision-making

By Gregory Richards posted 06-04-2015 13:56


At the European Conference on Information Systems held recently in Munster, Germany, a number of interesting research streams were discussed. First, it's all good and well to crunch lots of numbers, but how to humans actually make decisions when surrounded by massive amounts of data?  In some cases, they don't!  Here's a practical example: my current car has a backup camera. I had to change my decision-making behaviour to integrate it into how I parallel park.  Early on, there was too much information: I could see the other cars in 3D and through the camera, it beeped at me etc., Before I had the camera, I never even thought about the process...and managed to parallel park for many years without hitting anyone. I'm used to it now, but cognitive load is something we have to think about in the Big Data world.

A second related issue discussed was "information waste". Years ago, we talked about "data waste"...some data are just not useful. To some degree, my back up camera sends me lots of useless data. I've learned to filter out these data points.  The question is how do we know what's useful and what's not? Particularly in complex management contexts? 

There were many other interesting topics discussed: use of social media for product innovation for example; the shared economy and data emerging from what people are willing to share (e.g. a firm in Germany brokers "clothes sharing", sort of like Zip car for clothing). But I think the evolution of Big Data will be less about the technology and techniques and more about where humans fit.



1 comment



06-07-2015 21:53

Hi Gregory,
Interesting conclusion about how people are still very much the central theme in all Data related opportunities.
BTW, I had posted a blog in response to your original Big Data: Opportunity or Threat post. It's quite lengthy, and rather than pasting it here, here is the link.