The problem with Data Analytics

Data analytics is great for iterative evolution. But can a committee ever create anything awesome?  According to, “data analytics is the science of examining raw data with the purpose of drawing conclusions about that information. Data analytics is used in many industries to allow companies and organisations to make better business decisions.”

The tech may have changed, but the practice has not. Tupperware parties are data analytics. The pop charts are data analytics. Even in its modern sense, analytics has worked for quite some time – here’s a 2009 article about how Amazon used it to generate $2.7 billion. And here are ten more recent examples in a nutshell from Gartner analyst Doug Laney.

All of which means it is business proven and easier than ever before, with the number of analytics solutions on the market multiplying faster than Pythagoras the Viagra test bunny.

So here’s a question: can data analytics ever deliver true, game-changing, revolution-not-evolution innovation?

Data analytics: faster horses, brilliantly



To be clear, I’m not saying it has to, I’m asking if it could.
Has anything awesome ever been created by committee? At the 1997 Worldwide Developers Conference, Steve Jobs said “As we have tried to come up with a strategy and a vision for Apple, it started with ‘What incredible benefits can we give to the customer? Where can we take the customer?’…I think that’s the right path to take.” The emphasis is mine.

Jobs also said “people don’t know what they want until you show it to them” – ironically in this context, an evolution of Henry Ford’s famous “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”.

Apple under Jobs was one of this generation’s great revolutionaries, like Twitter (“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said complete sentences”), and Facebook (“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said no”).

Of course, great businesses are always built on art and science, but the magic happens in the ratio. Compare Jobs’ what-you-didn’t-know-you-wanted approach with the what-you-asked-for iPhone SE. It is a faster horse, which is exactly the sort of thing data analytics is brilliant for. But it’s no App Store.

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