Travolution Innovation Report: The human intelligence in the data equation

Travolution Innovation Report: The human intelligence in the data equation

Travolution Editor Lee Hayhurst says while data analytics is vital in today’s digital economy it might be wise to not trust everything to computer algorithms

In a world awash with data it might appear increasingly that brands able to work out how to best capture and analyse it will unlock access to a source of truth that could make them unassailable.

travo-report-sqThis sense presumes firstly that there is, in fact, a single source of truth that resides somewhere in the masses of unstructured data we as consumers and businesses are generating.

And it also reduces the perception of anyone’s chances of success down to a grey mathematical formula, leaching human existence of the colour that instinct, emotion, luck and serendipity bring.

This might appeal to analytical fundamentalists and misanthropes given to over-crediting the potential of a purely scientific approach over the relative disorder of fallible human intelligence.

Admittedly, data is vitally important, but even in the compiling of this year’s Innovation Report it’s clear there are only so many insights it surfaces before supposition and assumption are needed.

For our annual analysis our statistician Kew Associates feeds government data in one end and out the other come the facts and figures about IT investment in travel we’ve been tracking for a decade.

Sounds simple. But we are subject to many factors we can’t control, such as the classifications and definitions adopted by the Office for National Statistics and travel firms’ organisational restructures.

Then there’s the regular updates to the data as more information is made available to the ONS. This means the older the data is, the more settled and reliable it is, but maybe the less useful it is today.

And, as we see in this year’s analysis, an unexpected and significant shock, like the collapse of Thomas Cook, can raise previously unasked questions about what looked like established trends.

What the current coronavirus crisis will do to tried and tested data modelling in travel is anyone’s guess.

Today every business is striving to make sense of the deluge of data the modern digital economy is producing every single second of every single day.

The need to apply questions and caveats about the veracity of the data inputted and therefore the conclusions being drawn from it still requires informed human oversight.

No doubt computing power and increasingly sophisticated algorithms driven by Artificial Intelligence will uncover previously unseen insights and eradicate human error and false assumptions.

But we should probably all hope it doesn’t eradicate humans from the equation altogether, especially in an industry that is so wrapped up in our desires, emotions and feelings.

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