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Why Your Firm's Data Is Useless Without Human Ingenuity

In the movie Moneyball, a team manager uses analytics to helps the Oakland A's win the World Series.

It's a great sports movie, even though the baseball team didn't actually win the series. They had a great year, but that was a Hollywood ending.

Tony La Russa, the real-life manager, is a Hall-of-Famer in part for bringing analytics to baseball. He says the reality is that analytics will get you in the game, but you also have to rely on human ingenuity.

Big Data

"Big data" is a big catch-phrase in technology today. It holds the exciting and profitable power of marshaling information to create scenarios, strategies and predictions.

La Russa, in an interview with the Boston Globe, said there are strengths and weaknesses when using such data. He said it's foolish to think that analytics can predict everything that happens in the human experience.

"It's great stuff until the first pitch is thrown, and then what you have to do is invest in your managers and coaches," he said.

TechCrunch knows it -- not necessarily baseball, but how data and people have to work together. Tech players have to be real, too.

Human Element

Writing for the online tech publication, Ron Miller said it's about creative customer service. He said you have to use human skills to help or sell "or do whatever you need to do with that fellow human being."

"All the data in the world sitting in your customer record won't help your company deliver at that moment if you haven't been properly trained, or just have the common sense and business skills to execute in the moment," he said.

Sports and business management have a lot in common, Miller said. Things like motivation, training and execution are key.

And let's keep our eye on the ball here; it's not just a game. The average baseball team is worth about $1.3 billion.

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