BoolaBooks. Scan. Sell. Save.


18 Oct 2017

Everyone today wants to be data-driven. This in-vogue strategy is increasingly embraced by any and all fields. Rightfully so, data is an incredibly powerful tool and its inclusion in business decision-making (as well as software development in particular) is wonderful for many reasons you can find. That’s not the goal of this post. Rather, this post explores how difficult it is to “walk the walk” beyond saying you want to be “data-driven”.

The first hard part of being data-driven is that it takes real cost and planning to get the right signals and planning in place. For our BoolaBooks team this meant a lot of extra time learning about data platforms, injecting extra code into our software, and spending hours on hours writing queries and creating visualizations. There are increasingly better tools and platforms out there today to make this easier than ever before, but know that this is real time that someone probably important to your team has to spend (especially if it involves learning how to actual write data queries).

The second hard part of being data-driven is that data-driven questions is a never-ending rabbit hole. There is always a new question or way to slice the data to get a new insight. The challenge becomes knowing when to stop and knowing if you’ve asked the right questions. At some point you have to decide if that resource is better spent creating customer value in a different way!

The third and hardest part of being data-driven is having the courage to actually make a decision that goes against your intuition. Everyone will hear the data-driven story of how some company discovered a magical trend that everyone missed that resulted in X more clicks, Y more users, or Z more revenue. What you probably don’t hear a lot about are the features or products that companies decide to stop or pull funding from because the data shows they weren’t successful. This is a brutal reality to come to: you/your team probably spend lots of time building something, certain it would be that next thing that would help your product/feature get over the hump. It’s hard to swallow and many teams never have the guts to do it. In our case, we spent a ton of time getting our user rankings for buying & selling all set up. We thought this would drive users to care about their profiles on the site. In reality, we found users didn’t really care for this and as a result we’ve stopped funding the area altogether.