With a little help from Brad Pitt on the way, arguably it was Michael Lewis who first introduced ‘big data’ into the public consciousness with the publication of his book Moneyball more than a decade ago. His account of how a baseball club assembled a competitive and ultimately successful team despite its weak financial situation revealed to a global audience the power of analytical, evidence-based metric approaches in developing winning strategies.

As consumers, we might not always like or fully understand it, but we have mostly come to terms with the knowledge that our purchasing decisions and behaviours are collated into mega data sets and pored over by those that sell us things. After all firms like Netflix and Amazon have built global business empires largely based on recommending films and products to us derived from our earlier interactions. However, our acquiescence about retailers collecting and using the data our actions generate might not extend to our employers doing the same. Yet this is exactly what is set to happen; the world of work is about to get a makeover, at least that is the prophesy of Tim Adams writing brilliantly in this weekend’s Sunday Observer.

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