I wonder was I a victim of Big Data? Let me explain.
One of my favorite stories of how Big Data can force changes in the way you do business and can cause you to call into question recommendations that are not intuitive is this hypothetical dilemma.
You are the flight operations manager of an airline. You have 2 planes about to depart. It's snowing hard. The airport calls down to inform you that only 1 of your 2 planes will be granted permission to depart before the airport will shut down. One plane has 4 passengers on board, the other is full with 200 passengers.
What do you do?
You run your new "Flight Operations Optimizer" application. It's a new "Big Data" application that calculates the down stream 72 hour impact of canceling a flight based on multiple data sets including all passengers impacted, expected weather delays at all downstream destinations, airplane maintenance schedules and crew schedules.
The Flight Operations Optimizer comes back and advises that you should let the flight with 4 passengers depart. That alternative has the least down stream impact to the airline - A better business outcome.
To which you say WHAT! That can't be right. If I do that I'll have 200 very upset passengers at the counter to deal with and furthermore I won't make my goal of - maximizing passenger on time departures!
The story points out 2 major elements of Big Data.
- If you can analyze enough data that is often kept in different silos the results can well be counter intuitive. Leading you to dismiss it and still take the decision that doesn't lead to the best business outcome.
- The employee goals you have in place to drive the best corporate outcomes might be driving behaviors that don't actually don't accomplish that.