Independently minded publishing

The Average is Always Wrong

A real-world guide to putting data at the heart of your business

By Ian Shepherd

Paperback £14.99 / $18.99
eBook £11.49 / $14.49
Buy now

The Average is Always Wrong

A real-world guide to putting data at the heart of your business

By Ian Shepherd

Jacket text

Everywhere you look people are talking about data.

Buzzwords abound – ‘data science’, ‘machine learning’, ‘artificial intelligence’. But what does any of it really mean, and most importantly what does it mean for your business?

Long-established businesses in many industries find themselves competing with new entrants built entirely on data and analytics. This ground-breaking new book levels the playing field in dramatic fashion.

The Average is Always Wrong is a completely pragmatic and hands-on guide to harnessing data to transform your business for the better.

Experienced CEO and CMO Ian Shepherd takes you behind the jargon and puts together a powerful change programme anyone can enact in their business right now, to reap the rewards of simple but sophisticated uses of data.

Filled with practical examples and case studies, readers will come away with a powerful understanding of the real value of data and the analytical techniques that can drive profit growth.

About the author

Ian Shepherd is a CEO and CMO who has held senior roles in a range of world-class consumer brands over the last 25 years including Sky, Vodafone, Game and Odeon. Ian has launched loyalty programmes, built new digital revenue streams for traditional retailers, and turned declining market share into stellar growth – all based on a keen practical understanding of the consumer and of the power of data and customer insight. Now a non-executive director and adviser to a range of retail and technology businesses, Ian lives in Oxford with his family.


This book is about how to survive or perish. It is as stark as that. Ian’s book is brimming with examples of how leaders can not only survive – change today and they can thrive

Matt Truman, CEO and Co-Founder, True

Ian has taken a complex topic and demystified it for leaders across the organisation – an essential read.

Robert Kent, Chief Data Officer, Pets at Home

Business is awash with data; yet most companies haven’t a clue how to use it. This book will ensure you do.

Danny Russell, Customer Insight Consultant

Required reading for all consumer business leaders who want to understand how to gather and use data to their competitive advantage.

Jon Florsheim, Senior Advisor, AMP Capital


Part One: Data analysis that drives profit

Chapter 1: A few useful concepts
Chapter 2: The mistake we've all made
Chapter 3: Getting into the detail
Chapter 4: Not everyone is the same
Chapter 5: The science of prediction
Chapter 6: Umbrellas don't make it rain
Chapter 7: What are the chances of that?
Chapter 8: Data science in the real world 105

Part Two: Valuable data and where to find it

Chapter 9: Start with the customer
Chapter 10: To loyalty, and beyond
Chapter 11: Stock, stores and business performance
Chapter 12: The outside-in view

Part Three: Building the data-centric business

Chapter 13: Culture clash and the comfortable silo
Chapter 14: The central process of the data-centric business
Chapter 15: Make vs buy
Chapter 16: The joy of change

Published: 22/09/2020
Pages: 236
Formats: paperback - ISBN 9780857198129
ebook - ISBN 9780857198136
Media enquiries

If you’d like to get in touch with the author for interview or comment, or you’d like a review copy of this book, please contact us at or call +44 (0)1730 233870.


For information on available rights, please contact

Bulk purchases

We offer discounts for bulk purchases. Please contact for a quote.