Opinionated crunch time

Well, it is the end of the first week back after the holidays and we seemed to have all survived.

This week, for me, is always tough. My body has all too easily got used to getting up late, consuming high levels of sugary products (mainly mince pies), eating unlimited unhealthy snacks and let’s just say not much exercise.

So the start of this week always feels a bit like a cold shower… you know it will do you good, but you really don’t want to step in!

Fortunately, the way it has fallen this year, everything has been relatively quiet, with many folks still off, or in planning mode at least, we seem to have had a bit of a breather to get ourselves sorted out before the intensity starts in earnest the coming Monday.

Rabbits everywhere

One of the things I did realise this break was that one of the rabbit holes I easily get sucked into, is interesting data. Over the holidays I found this excellent article on vulnerability by area across the UK. It is worth a read in itself.

This is a joint venture between the Urban Institute and Lowell, and a bit of a promo piece. However, by linking through to their site, they have also made all their data available at an even more granular level. The file is somewhat large, but merging this with other data tables yields some interesting insights on the UK over time.

All of this got me thinking… about data, raw data, and how this bubbles up to insights and opinion. It is good, refreshing sometimes, to go back to data and get the data points… it helps with forming more informed opinions.

Nowhere is this more true, unfortunately, than the pandemic, where looking at facts and stats directly sometimes feels like the only way to actually understand what is going on.

Data analysis however can be tricky, and by comparison, listening to opinions (facts digested through someone else) is quick and easy… it is no wonder we often take this path… but here is the question, does it lead to the right decisions and outcomes?

If the opinion is trusted and expert, based on facts, maybe. If the opinion is based on others opinions of opinions, well maybe not. It is the case of listener beware.

Crunch time

Of course, it is not always about the data, and this year, just in case you had not noticed, there is quite a lot going on.

Already this year we have seen increasing COVID case levels with Omicron, a return to remote working and lurid details of a potential new variant. It is clearly the impact from the pandemic is not going anywhere any time soon.

Then closer to home, in collections, are already seeing things bubbling.

  • Buy Now Pay Later – is this pushing consumers into more debt with a new survey from StepChange
  • Increasing wholesale fuel prices, further squeezing the utilities industry and the consumer
  • Increasing lending and credit card use
  • and, the prospect of inflation… even pocket money has gone up in anticipation it seems

You just wonder (one does), with all the delayed anticipated influences from the pandemic turmoil, if this is actually going to be the year when we see the big impact… hopefully not, but certainly possible.

A new objective

So this sets the plan for this year… to access and crunch more data to be able to inform better opinions… be prepared and try to define what is happening, going to happen and find actions to mitigate as best as possible beforehand… not an easy task, I know… but it is good to have an objective I suppose.

And, as we can see from the article data is less of a problem than the crunching and creating space to think and make sense of it all… still it could be very interesting

In the meantime it is the weekend… so time to return, switch off work, and finish that leftover box of chocolates… next week awaits

[If you would like to access my newsfeeds or data dashboards I can add you to the list, just drop me a note below (or find details here)]

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