Within the past 15 years, the world has changed dramatically in several ways. Three biggest trends that were only being mentioned in passing in the late 1990s, but have become megatrends now are connectivity, mobility and digitisation. And suddenly (over the past few years), a new big trend is all over us — Big Data — which is penetrating all walks of our life. The combination and coordination of large amounts of data from within and across industries is now possible because of IT infrastructure, cloud computing, and algorithm-based artificial intelligence.
Suddenly, social scientists are talking about strategic decision-making based on detecting hidden patterns by mining information from large databases collected through regular and irregular means or by use of algorithms that detect and monitor peoples’ movements. For example, if one was searching the web for a two-door refrigerator, then for next several days, she will be subjected to advertisements relating to this product whenever the mail-box or web is opened. The algorithm does not know that the lady may no longer need the product.
Big Data seeks to render decision-making as a science with the art part to be thrown out. It appears that even the job of CEOs can now be taken over by expert automated systems! Leadership is about dealing with choices, alternatives, and perspectives. If decision-making was completely based on data, then experience and judgment would become redundant. Can Big Data driven decision-making encourage out-of-box thinking? Unlikely! It would encourage more linear-type thinking instead of making the manager attempt to capture the unintended consequences.