Sir: The decision by new Morrisons CEO David Potts to remove checkout management software (thegrocer.co.uk, 23 March) makes for an interesting contrast with the more general rise of so-called big data in recent years. Yet, in this instance, it is almost certainly the right thing to do. Of course, using data to monitor business processes is almost always a beneficial aid to good management. But, put to bad use, and particularly if the data collected is then actively used to evaluate staff, the broader costs of data can start to outweigh its benefits. This is especially true if staff then start to ‘game’ the system, because at that point that data is no longer ‘independent’ and its worth as a monitoring tool is impaired. Among the big UK multiples, Tesco has probably done more to utilise big data in recent years than anybody, yet its recent performance has been newsworthy mostly for the wrong reasons. In contrast, looking around the shop floor of the discounters sometimes feels like a throwback to the 1970s, yet their market share continues to rise. When it comes to big data, sometimes less is more.
Stuart Parkinson, author, The Top Note