Jan Bosch is a research center director, professor, consultant and angel investor in startups. You can contact him at jan@janbosch.com.

Opinion

Platform lesson #8: Instrument your platform for data-driven decisions

Leestijd: 3 minuten

William Edwards Demming, the American who helped Japan rebuild itself after World War II, famously said: “In God we trust; all others must bring data.” This is still a lesson most companies haven’t fully incorporated. Once a platform gets a certain amount of traction, the opportunity to make data-driven decisions presents itself. This is incredibly important as it allows for much higher-quality decision-making than is possible with opinions or qualitative data (what customers said). The challenge is that in many platforms, the architects never spent much time thinking about instrumenting the platform with data collection capabilities. As a consequence, the platform has limited, if any, data collection built-in.

When there’s no data available, many decisions are made without much evidence, purely based on beliefs and earlier experiences from key decision-makers. One reason is that it’s often hard to collect the data post-hoc. As a consequence, most companies that I work with are unable to answer basic questions concerning feature usage in their platform. How do you prioritize R&D resources if you don’t know whether the features you’ve already built are even used? And if you do know, do you then also know who’s using what features so you can do a proper segmentation of your customer base?

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