Thoughts about the article:

Netflix is data-driven to the point of saying “customers are poor about knowing what they need.” There’s a radical shift from the old idea that the customer is always right.

Beyond the quality principle of “fitness to standard” (a product performing as designed) is the softer, human realm of how well a product satisfies customers’ needs (fitness to need; what customers are capable of saying about their needs). Steve Jobs is credited with understanding the needs for products and product designs that customers could never say for themselves. Creating product around “latent need” was Jobs’ genius. But Big Data has allowed business to be less reliant on the lightning-in-the-bottle of such genius by surfacing facts through analysis that customers are unable to state for themselves. Data-driven change + speedy iterations from a minimally viable release have become an antidote not just for the risks of genius getting it wrong, but also the “wow!” of leapfrogging well past the competition.

Successes like Netflix beg the question of whether we could all move to relying on data and algorithms alone for setting the strategies, and designing the products and services, of our businesses. Are we past the “Eureka!” moment? What role is there for old-fashioned genius in a data-driven tech ecosystem? Or is it really about finding a new kind of human-technology synthesis in the business of technology, and the quantitative and qualitative measures of quality?

One fact is clear: all the high aspirations of meeting need, latent and otherwise, through data collapses in the face of buggy technology. It’s on that fact that we at iBeta continue to make our living.