I've hugely enjoyed Malcolm Gladwell's books in the past (Tipping point, Blink, What the dog saw...) they make important points with an elegant simplicity. In a similar vein, his point below is reasonably simple: that “more data increases our confidence, not our accuracy,”.
It's a point well made. In online B2B marketing, we have access to large amounts of data with astonishing granularity. However, at a human level, this access is very recent and we cannot have established when to analyse and when to ignore data. The tendency is to continue mining and testing and learning but Malcolm suggests (and I agree) that sometimes that can lead to missing the wood for the trees. That when your head is down looking at the data, you're not taking a broad view of what your client really wants.
This can lead to excellent tactics within a broken strategy.
“The data can’t tell us the nature of the behavior,” Gladwell said. “Maybe it’s developmental … or maybe it’s generational.” Developmental change, in Gladwell’s story, is behavior that occurs as people age. For instance, “murder is a young man’s game,” he said, with almost all murders being committed by men under the age of 25. Likewise, dying in a car accident is something that just “statistically doesn’t happen” over the age of 40. In other words, people age out of developmental changes — they are not true long-term lasting shifts in behavior.