This week’s focus: I read somewhere that 90% of all the data that has ever been generated was created in the last two years. You now have an almost unlimited supply of data about your customers, both quantitative – purchasing behaviours, researched attitudes and wider spending habits – and qualitative, including social media comments, emails and YouTube videos.

But this “Big Data” is not easily translated into “Big Insight”. On the contrary, many companies seem to drown in this tsunami of information. Inches thick reports and slide decks are created that serve merely to confuse rather than clarify, inhibiting managers’ ability and willingness to use their own judgement. One retail director recently suggested to me that his company should do away with its army of ‘shopper insight’ analysts – and I can’t say I blame him.

Where is excessive data getting in the way of your – and your colleagues’ – ability to see the big picture and inhibiting your ability to use your own common sense judgement? And what steps can you take to prevent this from happening?

Off the record: Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell

I’ve looked at life from both sides now

From up and down, and still somehow

It’s life’s illusions I recall

I really don’t know life

At all

© Stuart Cross 2014. All rights reserved.