Data are nothing

At least without context! As fascinating Big Data is to me, there is a danger that people will stop thinking about the results and take everything as truth. I witnessed this last weekend at the fitness gym. I was able to have a look at my record in their “CRM” and a big red bubble instantaneously sparked my interest. I asked the trainer what this means and she replied “That your are 100% likely to leave us”. I was shocked! I’m going to leave … but wait! That’s not the case. I asked further “why are you supposing this?”, her reply “maybe because your come here once a week”. She couldn’t add more criteria and was more guessing than knowing. Aha. That’s the truth and further more this year is not a good year in terms of fitness for me (I`m not going into details), but I’m not having any intention to leave them. Two points are obvious here:

  1. Data are nothing without context: They only had to ask me, about my motivations or reasons for not visiting more often
  2. The decision for marking me as “likely to leave” was not transparent

And the result: They are 100% wrong!

But it showed one thing again: Validation of results is necessary. Not only for Dr. House. Don’t blindly believe things only because they appear on a computer screen.

Oh, this story has no happy ending, because they are not able to correct their data. So in their eyes will still 100% likely to leave. But I will stay, because CRM and computer systems are not their core competency. They are a lot better in helping me work out.

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