Op-Ed: Most data is less valuable than we think

We are in the business of collecting data and facilitating business processes. Today I want to focus on the data side of things.

Some of our clients obsess over customer data. Many of us heard the story of “Walmart can predict pregnancies based on purchasing data”. The take-away from these stories for many of our clients (and us) is to collect and present as much data as possible to reach our business goals.

But is the data we collect in a Sales or Service context as valuable as we think? 
My working theory is: Most data we collect has less value than we think. 

Disclaimer: This is my opinion based on my research and experience. Your experience, company, and circumstances will differ.

Three factors for data having less value than we think:
1) We collect bad data
2) Data loses its value very fast
3) Data is often not actionable

1) We collect bad quality data
We all have seen it, rows and rows of mandatory fields to be filled out: How did you hear about Universal Containers? Hobbies? Date of Birth?
From my experience, oftentimes Users just put in random value to get to the interesting part: Selling or Closing a Case.
If the data point has no value for the User to succeed in their job, more often than not the entered data is of very low quality.

Take-Away: Collect only what’s necessary, everything else has not much value

2) Data loses its value over time
Even if the data entered into the system is correct, it loses its value really fast. Name and Date of Birth are pretty stable but something like product interest can be outdated in weeks. 
We often look at data from the past, as it still tells the truth about today while the information might be outdated.

Take-Away: Every piece of information has a lifecycle. Discuss what data retains its value for how long. Only present and analyze data that still holds true.

3) Data is not actionable
“Customer was at the gas station.” That is an actual quote from a note field I analyzed.
The data is not actionable for the next person picking up that Lead. In my experience, a lot of data we collect is not actionable.
“Hobbies” in a Service context: What should an Agent do with that information? “Total Number of Quotes”, how does this help the Sales Agent to Close a Deal?

Take-Away: Every data point collected and presented needs to be actionable in some way or another. Data for sake of Data has no value.

What’s your experience and thoughts?