THE BLOG
06/30/2016 03:23 pm ET Updated Jul 01, 2017

Here's Why Brexit Should Not Have Surprised Anyone

The Brexit earthquake definitely shook the very ground we walk on - and the aftershocks will most likely continue for months to come.

The vote heard round the world. Lots of surprise in worldwide political circles as well as financial and trading markets. Even on the street, UK voters and observers everywhere still seem stunned.

With all the sophistication in social media and big data analytics how could everyone have been so wrong?

The answer is that information is not intelligence until it is analyzed and presented in intelligible format. And even then, those analyzing data need to be able to really absorb the truth about that data. Data rarely lies.

Predictive analytics is a tool used by credit card companies, big retailers, health and wellness companies and more. It was used to some degree in the run-up to the Brexit vote, but most folks didn't see the true message -- or didn't want to see it.

And in terms of elections, we're finding the world over that traditional polling data and 'man on the street' questions just doesn't cut it anymore.

Forbes put it this way:

"...Putting this all together, what can we learn from Brexit about the state of the big data world of forecasting? Perhaps most importantly, Brexit defied all the traditional data sources, from opinion polls to prediction markets to superforecasters. Yet, online indicators offered a strong hint of the outcome, with some online opinion polls offering odds not that far from reality and social media favoring Leave, while Google's search volume timeline in the week prior to voting was relatively close, even if the geography of those searches was not. At the same time, social media volume and search interest have also favored losing candidates many times in the past."

The big takeaway is that the truth in the data is most likely there, if you have data scientists who can find it and executives who are willing to see the true picture for what it is.

Think Moneyball for politics. Pay attention to the data and the numbers. As the data proved more and more valuable and I think the Remain camp truly feels this in the aftermath.

Other upcoming elections might want to think about beefing up their predictive analytics AND paying attention to what the data tells them.

Beverly Macy is the author of best seller The Power of Real-Time Social Media Marketing. She teaches Global Business of Sports & Entertainment at UCLA Anderson School of Management and is a thought leader in digital media and big data.