I cannot make bricks without clay!

“Data, data, data!” [Holmes] cried impatiently. “I cannot make bricks without clay!” Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Copper Beeches

The brilliant detective of Conan Doyle’s creation is not alone.  Today, key decision-makers in most fields rely on a healthy supply of objective, accurate data and analytics in order make the decisions on which their organisation depends.  They see the value of using objective information to challenge their thinking or to validate their intuition.  They seek to understand its limitations to ensure that it can be deployed most effectively.  

Take driving as an example – no one would claim that crunching road-use data has improved people’s inherent ability to manoeuvre a car safely, but:

    • It has helped insurers price more accurately
    • It has helped car manufacturers improve the safety of their designs
    • It has changed the way roads are set up to ensure danger spots are minimised
    • It has helped governments establish the best approach to applying speed limits and regulating traffic
    • It has helped positively influence the design of a public transport system

In football, critics often point to the limitations of analytics without an appreciation of the extent to which it can help. Yes analytics can’t effectively measure defensive output (yet), and neither can it make your players more talented, but:

It is clearly important to understand and appreciate the limitations – analytics poorly applied can be as damaging as anything – but sometimes you have to tolerate imperfection to drive a better outcome.

About Ben Marlow

Ben Marlow has created 17 entries.

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