Uber and AirBNB hint at BI’s future

You may have seen yesterday’s New York Times story about ratings on Uber, AirBNB, and similar outfits. Customers rate providers, but providers also rate customers. And guess what: As coarse as a five-point scale may seem, actual ratings tend to be worse. Forget the shades of gray, you’re probably either terrific or terrible.

Welcome to a chilling thought. This is what a “data driven culture” could be among the late adopters— a warning those of us who worship “data-driven culture” should be careful what we wish for. Is the failure of business intelligence’s failure to penetrate beyond the present beachhead such a bad thing? The Times story makes me wonder: Which comes first, tools or intelligence?

As important part of intelligence, we might say, is the ability to perceive subtle meaning. At least that’s the assumption underlying the design of most data analysis tools. No one needs SAS, QlikSense, or any of the others to recognize a gold mine glinting in the sun. But we do need data analysis to reveal the vein that, by the thinnest of margins, could turn a profit. And so-called “big data” offers even finer resolution on that picture, letting analysts study questions from many new aspects.

Perhaps you dispute the Doodler’s point. You say that the Uber example has nothing to do with data analysis. You say that the problem is in data quality! That would imply that those who submit data with hamfisted abandon would analyze that same kind of data with a sensitive touch — very unlikely.

What’s more likely is that, if true, the Uber and AirBNB experience portends a dark future for “data driven” cultures.

Read the Times story here. “Ratings Now Cut Both Ways, So Don’t Sass Your Uber Driver”

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