June 13, 2016

60 Data Scientists?

A VC I've previously worked with mentioned on Twitter that StitchFix has sixty (60) data scientists on staff ... he stated that StitchFix is going to do to retail what Moneyball did to Major League Baseball.

Now, I've managed Data Scientists ... back when they were just Statisticians with Masters or PhDs to their credit. And like anything else, I can tell you that just because you have sixty numbers oriented people doesn't mean you have a 60x increase in insights into why your business does / does not work.

But it is also possible that 60 data scientists give you a 120x increase in insights.

If you want to understand how your Brand Ecosystem works, you have to invest in people. No, not invest in your favorite vendor, because your favorite vendor cares more about how their ecosystem works than how your ecosystem works ... and they should care more, because they cannot survive without understanding how their ecosystem works (do you think that vendors measure their own ecosystem based on client repurchase rates and spend and product affinities and the like ... a good question, don't you think?)

You cannot learn how your Brand Ecosystem works if all you ever do is figure out how to "target" a customer. You have to actually map the system, from newbie to loyalist. You have to know how much of your email sales are incremental, and how much is cannibalized from other channels. You have to understand the role of every single merchandise category. You have to understand the role of new merchandise, existing merchandise, winning items, contending items, low price points, average price points, high price points.

You have to do some work.

Show of hands ... how many of you have a thorough understanding of your brand ecosystem?

Hiring 60 data scientists for a $200,000,000ish business is one way to get a head start.