Don't Bring an Opinion to a Data Fight: How to Stop Misinformation

As a millennial, I’ve grown up in a constantly “online” world. If I want information, I can access it. If I have a question, I can type a search query and get an answer.

But how reliable are the answers that search engines deliver? Genuinely fake news floods social media, people and reputable news organizations present opinions as fact, and an overwhelming wealth of information is available at the click of a button. How can I know what to trust? How can I distinguish facts from well, alternative facts?

Businesses face the same issue. Humans run companies, meaning humans will look online to find answers to their business needs and concerns. This means that not only must organizations navigate this chaotic environment of information, they must develop the ability to spot (and avoid!) the bad information while absorbing the good.

This crucial factor will separate successful businesses from those doomed to fail.

This creates a common pain point for both individuals and businesses alike: how does one find valuable, accurate information?

The answer? By looking at data.

Bring data to the table

Data analytics can help relieve those dreaded pain points clients experience at the click of a button. Your organization doesn’t have to trudge through the overwhelming amount of information, opinions, bias, or company politics; rather, you can stick to the facts.

In school, every student hopes to achieve an A grade on an assignment. Here are three ways in which data analytic tools can help your organization get a perfect “A” score:

  • Aggregate. Data is everywhere, right? But you know what matters? Your company’s data. Aggregate profits, loss, sales, salaries, traffic to your website, page performance, etc. together. From there, you can filter information and help your organization generate reports that matter.
  • Analyze. Data can be overwhelming (and some days it feels like you are drowning in it). Use data analytics tools to help narrow down and find very specific points of information.
  • Accurate. If you read a news story on one site it can be wildly different than another site reporting on the same story. Bias leaks into the “facts” of what took place. Data, however, can help you check for accuracy of information. If reports aren’t lining up or there’s a discrepancy, you can find it and resolve it quickly.

I’ve been in client meetings where the inevitable “we’ve always done it this way” comes into the conversation. No one likes change or disruption and some of us will do everything we can to avoid it.

In a world of unlimited information, some of us will read one story and stop. We don’t check its accuracy, sources, or information. The line between opinion and fact is so blurred that sometimes a reader without realizing it, sees the opinion as the fact and not the other way around. Individuals argue points because “they read an article” only to realize after that the article or report is inaccurate.

When data clearly shows that by doing “x,” clients are losing money or “y” is causing 3 hours of additional time, it’s hard to argue against changing course. By sticking to facts and using their data, clients on board quickly.

As a society, we need to stop bringing opinions to a data fight. If you want your organization to thrive, you have to really dig into your data. Anytime there’s a challenge, check the data. In a world where there’s information everywhere, you just can’t argue with facts.