The huge amount of data being created and stored on the internet is too much for most organisations and individuals to fathom, let alone do anything useful with. For most, it’s overwhelming, which is a huge barrier to what we call “data-driven innovation”.

Oxford Internet Institute professor Viktor Mayer-Schonberger agrees – and told an audience of Wikipedia experts yesterday that there is “still a trade-off between the quality and quantity of data points”.

According to The Guardian, Mayer-Schonberger said we need to start collecting more data or at least get it in a higher-quality. In particular, he argues, we need to “embrace the messiness” of it– using Google Translate as an example.

“Nothing happened until the end of the 1980s, when IBM’s brilliant engineers had the idea of improving algorithms of languages. It was only Google, 10 years later, who saw that what was missing was data. They fed the entire world wide web into the project, and it didn’t matter if the correlations were messy.”

While harnessing this type of information is easier said than done, it’s true there needs to be a reshaping of how organisations, business and individuals think about collecting data-points. One of the barriers to entry is that so much of the data isn’t easily interpreted. Businesses simply don’t have the skills necessary to put that is insights into action.

But having something is better than having nothing. Even the largest organisations are struggling under the huge weight of information being tracked – it may take some time before any actionable insights are located, let alone actionable. But recording it is the first step.

While the number points being tracked may seem daunting, especially in a consumer-focused industry such as retail, it’s only the first step in a long process – and it’s better than doing nothing at all.