I wonder what the “predictive” and “prescriptive” aspect will do to corporate creativity. I define corporate creativity as creating a completely new product or service, seemingly “out of thin air.” I am not thinking here about incremental improvements to existing products or services. I do realize that “corporate” and “creativity” seldom go in one sentence. I think they should.
At this stage, much of the data analytics action in corporations is centered around customer behavior, trying to figure out how, why, where and what customers buy, and attempting to understand all the nuances associated with buying decisions. Such understanding of their customers can lead companies to segmenting them by buying patterns and adjusting their offerings accordingly.
As an example, to understand how to tailor its offerings to different customer segments Pep Boys analyzed its database of 24 million customers. Based on the customer types, the company is now adding different store formats and enhancing digital operations, as described in Setting the Course for Growth: CEO Perspectives, a recent report from KPMG and Forbes Insights.
This is smart. This is how analytics is prescriptive. It can also lead to incremental innovation as customers can give companies their feedback on the quality of the services or products they are getting, or what else they might find useful. Analyzing and acting on such input from customers leads to new innovative solutions.
But what about the products and services that customers do not know they want? The type of products devised by genius brains a la Steve Jobs or Ted Turner?
There is no data about what does not yet exist, so data analytics cannot help us here. Would data analytics ever lead us to a 24 hour news channel, as devised by Ted Turner? Would we have the Apple AAPL +1.38% typeface?
In his New York Times article, Creativity vs. Quants, Timothy Egan describes “how Steve Jobs came up with the groundbreaking font selection when Apple designed the Mac: He had taken a class in the lost art of calligraphy and found it “beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture.” Ten years later, it paid off when Apple ushered in a typeface renaissance.”
I do not see how the choice of the typeface could have been arrived at through data analytics. Some business decisions are coincidental or rely on making connections between seemingly disparate worlds (e.g. calligraphy and technology.)