The danger of death by data - Prelude

The danger of death by data

The amount of data available to businesses now is extraordinary. Online, businesses can monitor every detail of what happens on their site, from the first click in to the point of sale.

Within the team, technology can enable you to monitor team performance and quality standards. If you’re not using data to drive your business, you’re missing a trick.

Yet, death by data is also a distinct possibility if it’s misused. For example, in a quest for more data, HR departments often try to make sure that all their candidate tracking is in one place, automated through tracking systems so they can monitor exactly what’s going on at every stage. The danger is, if no one notices large numbers dropping out at the point that potential applicants encounter this system, you have a problem.

It doesn’t necessarily mean those people are just lazy (and therefore not the kind of people you want anyway). It can also mean that they just don’t know enough about your company, don’t feel enough engagement with your brand at that point to go through a long, demanding process of application.

In the process of measuring, you can end up reducing the data set – which means fewer great candidates. If candidates don’t know what their odds are of success are for jumping through the various application ‘hoops’ how can you expect people to spend their valuable time doing it? It’s naivety from businesses at best, arrogant and destructive at worst.

The way you capture data can substantially influence the data you get. In this example, that means not only are you failing to accurately measure what’s going on, you’re actively damaging your employer brand, and putting off potentially great candidates. The purpose has been completely lost!

The takeaway message is that user experience is at least as important as data capture – and the two are often inversely related. The more data you ask people for, the more likely you are to lose them. Data can drive insight and innovation – but excessive data collection can also stifle it.


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