How Can Big Data Sideline Innovation

Algorithms are great at telling you what customers are doing, but not so great at explaining why.

I recently asked a gathering of business leaders in New York City how much time they’d spent in a consumer’s home over the past year. Out of 3,000 executives in the audience, only two raised their hands. The unspoken reply could just as well have been: “Why should I? All I have to do is turn on my computer, and I’ll find never-ending streams of tables modeling how consumers feel about my brand.”

That’s certainly true. But isn’t it tantamount to explaining your interest in a romantic partner because they’re 5-foot-7, you’re fond of people with a hair color of Pantone 39134, and that the last four digits of their cell phone number turn you on?



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