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Where Big Data Fails, Small Data Wins

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Big data is all the rage right now. As our businesses and lives become increasingly digital, the amount of information centered on our actions starts to pile up. Today, there are massive amounts of data that can be generated on everything from crime stats in a specific city to how many daily visitors land on the Google homepage. With this massive amount of information, we can take a look into current trends and even make educated predications on the future.

However, big data means big picture—what about the more intricate pieces of the puzzle?

This is what Martin Lindstrom explores in his recently published book Small Data: The Tiny Clues That Uncover Huge Trends.

Relaying on Big Data comes with two problems that all leaders should be aware of. These problems are detailed in the foreword of Martin’s book, which is written by Chip Heath, author of Made to Stick and Switch. Heath outlines that Big Data:

  1. doesn’t spark insight, and
  2. favors analysis over emotions.

Since innovation and brand love are two major parts of any successful company—just look at Disney, Apple, Target, etc.—Big Data is missing crucial information a business needs to know in order adapt to its customers’ desires.

“Big Data has problems, and Martin is successful at showing how Small Data is essential to overcoming them,” Heath explains. If LEGO relied on the information provided to them via Big Data trends back in the late 1990s, they would have dumbed down their brand and may have even gone out of business. LEGO’s current success is in part due to Martin and the information they gleaned from a single 11-year-old German boy whose sneakers held the key to how the company should evolve.

As Heath concludes in his foreword, “Our businesses will not improve through Big Data alone. We need to follow Martin and explore Rich Data. Even if it comes in the form of Small Data, our businesses will be better for it.”

Business leaders need to know the full picture of their business and they cannot do that through Big Data alone. With Martin’s help, you can get a better look at the issues your company is facing through Small Data, which will help you make more informed decisions as we move forward in this increasingly digital world.


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