The Importance of Data in Retail IT


Big data was supposed to make decision making easy, right? Retailers would no longer have to guess, they could simply consult the data and know what action to take next. While data has made certain things much clearer, many retailers would argue that decision making is no easier than it was before big data. Plenty of people still overthink decisions as intuition and gut feelings often disagree with the black-and-white data. So what role should data play in retail IT today?

Why People Overthink Data

You’d think that when hard data and facts are presented, decisions could be made quickly. However, many people find the more they stare at the data, the more they hear a “nagging” in the back of their mind. According to neuroscience, when we start examining data, our brain instinctively shuts down the area of our minds that focus on working memory so all of our energy can go to data analysis. Our brains try to protect us from making emotional decisions when examining facts, but our memory simply will not go quietly into that good night.

So as we look facts, we get a “nagging” feeling we may be missing the facts or figures needed to make strong decisions, or we become convinced we are forgetting a critical insight that is locked somewhere in our memory. The more that part of the brain nags, the more value we tend to give it. However, if you can recognize what’s happening inside your head, you can learn to put it aside and focus on the data. The way to do that? More data.

A Complete Data Profile Quiets a Nagging Mind

There is no way to completely eliminate intuition and gut feeling from a final decision, but the more complete the data you’re working with, the less likely you are to become obsessed with the nagging feelings in the back of your mind. When you can create a 360-degree picture of the landscape, there is little room for emotion to creep in. That means retailers must continually invest in big data initiatives in order to ensure they can have many facts available to them when it comes time to make decisions.

Not only does that mean investing in the right database platforms, but also the right people to organize the data, make recommendations, spot trends and create innovative new programs to capitalize on the terabytes of data collected by retailers. Investing in full-time staff for these projects isn’t always feasible. Often, the solution is to seek out IT contractors who work on a project basis to conduct experiments, troubleshoot projects and oversee launches, later turning the project over to full-time staffers.

If you are interested in learning more about how consultants and contract-based IT professionals can help you harness the power of big data for better decision making, Verity Retail Solutions can help. We work with the nation’s top retailers to develop innovative IT teams to keep them on the cutting edge of trends. For more information on our process, or to learn more about how Verity Retail Solutions can help you, contact us today.

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