House of Cards and The Art of Working Backwards

Conversations over lunch, team meetings, Facebook status updates, no matter where I turn, everyone is talking about the upcoming season of House of Cards.

And somehow in all of these lunch conversations and status updates, nobody seems to remember, care, or mention that this award-winning show wasn’t solely based on a writer sitting on a mountaintop who had a sudden stroke of genius, but rather on the on the viewing habits of the (now) 57.4 million subscribers of Netflix.

A data-driven approach to creating a show that their viewers really wanted helped the series succeed even before it aired. An increasing number of networks are now being informed by Big Data, and who better to lead the pack than Netflix, a company that knows more about their audiences than any other entertainment and media company.

Netflix uses a data-driven approach to create TV shows that viewers really want to see.   @Umbel

House of Cards heads into Season 3 as one of the most successful web series. The on-demand Internet-streaming media company has been able to continuously craft the perfect show with the perfect actor, all while developing a plot they know their audience will continue to gush about over lunch.

So if the consumer (and in this situation my friends) aren’t too concerned with the fact that the show was deliberately made based on viewing habits, but rather that they get to watch one of their favorites actors be directed by someone whose movies they also love, all while engaging in a nail-biting plot, why aren’t more companies working backwards and paying closer attention to what their customers want?

For example, Umbel was recently able to help ASICS get a better understanding of their customers’ running habits: How far did they run? What route did they take? How much time did they spend running? The MY ASICS app helps users track their runs and work towards customized fitness goals. Based on all of this information ASICS (via their MY ASICS app) was able to create a more nuanced app experience that spoke to their consumers’ needs. New running routes, better training information, what to do when you’re injured, what cities their users are running in. All of this data helped ASICS dictate what type of experience they could give their app audience.

So with every download, with every submission form, and with every share, consumers are telling us what they want and need from a company.   

And therein lies the art of working backwards.