An introduction to data-driven decisions for manager who don’t like math, from Harvard Business Review.
Not a week goes by without us publishing something here at HBR about the value of data in business. Big data, small data, internal, external, experimental, observational — everywhere we look, information is being captured, quantified, and used to make business decisions.
Not everyone needs to become a quant. But it is worth brushing up on the basics of quantitative analysis, so as to understand and improve the use of data in your business. We’ve created a reading list of the best HBR articles on the subject to get you started.
Why data matters
Companies are vacuuming up data to make better decisions about everything from product development and advertising to hiring. In their 2012 feature on big data, Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson describe the opportunity and report that “companies in the top third of their industry in the use of data-driven decision making were, on average, 5% more productive and 6% more profitable than their competitors” even after accounting for several confounding factors.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, argues McAfee in a pair of recent posts. Data and algorithms have a tendency to outperform human intuition in a wide variety of circumstances.