Marketing today is all about data – and the bigger, the better. “Big data” is touted as the answer for everything from driving better ROI, to improving customer experience, to curing athlete’s foot (well, not really that). And, if anything, your 1st-party data is becoming even more critical, given the future deprecation of the 3rd-party cookie.

However, relying on data alone would have put you in tech stocks in 2000, real estate in 2007, and perhaps airline stocks before the pandemic. While data enriches understanding, it doesn’t substitute for instinct, insight, or human touch. Machines can’t make a gut decision – nor should they.

That’s why, important as all the big data is, small data remains just as important. The qualitative information, the surprising a-ha, and instincts that are fed by experience – these can help inform your data, your strategy, and your creative thinking more than reams of data ever can. They provide the additional dimensions needed to make better and more complex decisions.

But more importantly, data is unlikely to “stir the soul”, create inspiration, or drive creative breakthroughs. And that’s what leads to the innovation necessary for significant success today. Big data can help shine the light, but people create the new ideas that emerge.

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