Harvard Business Review Webinar: The Visual Organization

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What is data?

HBR Webinar: The Visual OrganizationPhil SimonJune 13, 2004

HBR Webinar @philsimon 1

HBR Webinar @philsimon 2Who am I?

Award-winning author of six books, most recently The Visual OrganizationSpeaker, consultant, and technology expertHuge Breaking Bad fan (more on that later)HBR Webinar @philsimon 2

3 bullets on who I am.


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Ask: Whos this guy? GIVE COPY OF Too Big to Ignore OUT TO FIRST ONE.

Reed Hastings, co-founder and CEO, Netflix

Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google all do Big Data really well, but perhaps theres no bigger Big-Data company than Netflix.3

HBR Webinar @philsimon 4Netflix StatsRoughly 48M customersNearly $26B market cap Responsible for one-third of all US weeknight Internet traffic

Data as of June 9, 2014

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3 bullets

- 3rd this is why Net Neutrality is such a big deal Net neutrality (also network neutrality or Internet neutrality) is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, and modes of communication. The term was coined by Columbia media law professor Tim Wu4

HBR Webinar @philsimon 5Netflix FactsSingle biggest AWS customer2012 Christmas day outageIn September of 2013, Netflix became the first non-TV network to win an Emmy for House of Cards

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2 bullets, one sub

even bigger than Amazon itself! this is both a good and a bad thing.Mention outageNetflix is engendering cord-cutting and changing the rules in Hollywood. Orange is the New Black


This begs the obvious question


HBR Webinar @philsimon 6The Netflix Data Credo - 1Data should be accessible, easy to discover, and easy to process for everyone.

Source: Netflix - tinyurl.com/tvo-netflix

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Talk about the need for transparency, data discovery, and data democracy.

Netflix tracks each customer selection, pause, exit.

But forget staying within the enterprise. Netflix purchases an extensive amount of third-party data and metadata from firms like Nielsen, a leading global information and measurement company, provides market research, insights & data about what people watch & what people buy.


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Computers and algorithms only get you so far

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Talk about Kurzweil7

HBR Webinar @philsimon 8Augmenting Existing Data

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As a result, it can go well beyond general categorizations:


ComediesDramasWesternsDocumentariesMove Well Beyond Simple Genres

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HBR Webinar @philsimon 1077,000 Subgenres of MoviesDark Suspenseful Sci-Fi Horror MoviesGritty Suspenseful Revenge WesternsRomantic Indian Crime DramasEvil Kid Horror MoviesVisually-Striking Goofy Action & Adventure FilmsViolent Suspenseful Action & Adventure Films from the 1980s

Source: The Hollywood ReporterHBR Webinar @philsimon 10

Source: The Atlantic10

HBR Webinar @philsimon 11The Netflix Data Credo - 2The longer you take to find the data, the less valuable it becomes.

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Never before has it been so important to act quickly, but how many organizations possess the right tools to act immediately?

And a culture that embraces data to this extent?

Because of the extent to which it relies upon data to make business decisions, Netflix knows more on its customers than just about any out there.

The Netflix culture encourages and values curiosity. ***2nd bullet

For instance.11


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Whos this?


HBR Webinar @philsimon 13Stats50,000 Netflix subscribers watched all 13 episodes of Season 4 of Breaking Bad the day before Season 5 premiered.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

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And not just BB. Netflix tracks stats like this.

Ted Sarandos chief content officer interview

For instance, only 8,000 of its customers signed up for House of Cards, watched all 13 episodes of season one, and then terminated their subscriptions. 13

HBR Webinar @philsimon 14The Netflix Data Credo - 3Whether a dataset is large or small, being able to visualize it makes it easier to explain.

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And its this part that I want to focus on.


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1 click

Quick quiz: name the actor and the movie.


Spaceys current project is House of Cards.

Netflix spent $100M on the first season without even seeing so much as a pilot. Thats right. 13 episodes.

Isnt that crazy? Not really when you consider that Netflix possesses the data to justify such a gaudy expenditure.15

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Heres the featured image for the show.

Interesting, right? Spacey looks very authoritative.

But the cover of House of Cards looks quite a bit like MacBeth with Patrick Stewart.

But how similar? Funny you should ask.16

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So what? Maybe (point at audience member) you like comedies with orange imagery?

You like (point another) you like dramas with black covers?

Maybe none of this applies to (point to audience member #3).


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HBR Webinar @philsimon 19What does Netflix know about each of its 40M streaming customers?What they watchWhen they watchThe device on which theyre watchingWhen they pause and/or resume watching

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In the book I cover Autodesk19

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3 bullets

Shows employee exits, transfers, and hires over four year period.20

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You will have to use the mouse here to play the video.

TRANSITION - The concepts in The Visual Organization arent only for large organizations.21

HBR Webinar @philsimon 22Characteristics of a Visual OrganizationEschew set it and forget itEncourage data exploration and discoveryRecognize the limitations of reporting stalwartsBuy and build new tools as necessary

4 bullets

Tell story of NJ utility company Access dBYou dont know what youre looking for.Dashboards, KPIs, and standard reports can only do so much.Orgorgchart and netflix examples22

HBR Webinar @philsimon 23Dataviz MythsWe must visualize all of the dataOnly visualize good dataVisualization will always manifest the right action or decisionVisualization will lead to certainty


Lessons: Becoming a Visual Organization

HBR Webinar @philsimon 25Becoming a Visual OrganizationLook outside of the enterpriseDont forget the metadataVisualize both small and big dataWalk before you runat least for now

Open data, social data, etc. Netflix buys 3rd party data and metadataDescribe PRISM abortion exampleNot just unstructured dataYou dont go from zero to Google or Netflix or Amazon overnight


HBR Webinar @philsimon 26Becoming a Visual OrganizationUX: participation mattersExperimentation is paramountWalk before you runat least for nowAvoid the quarterly visualization mentality

Describe evolution of OrgOrgChartdata visualization tools are often not linear projectsYou dont go from zero to Netflix or zero to Google overnightSelf-explanatory26

HBR Webinar @philsimon 27Transparency is becoming increasingly importantAll data is not required to beginEncourage interactivityIterate

Becoming a Visual Organization

University of TexasMythYou want employees to ask questions of their dataThe world changes; its unlikely that one major tool will answer every question equally well. 27

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HBR Webinar @philsimon 29Connect with me



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HBR Webinar @philsimon 30Questions

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