Analytics are no longer for humans. Here’s how we can fix that.
It’s time to make data analytics human again.
Two years ago, I fell in love with data. A business school student at the time, I was extremely frustrated by the fact that much of business consulting is based on “assumption” and “intuitions”, rather than on concrete facts. Being able to analyze clients’ data in depth granted me comfort in knowing that at least some of my recommendations were valid and concrete.
Spending an entire summer learning and researching about data science, I became even more fascinated by the power of data, and how it could be used to benefit the lives of millions if not billions of people to make their lives more enriching, convenient, and free.
Unfortunately, there is a huge gap between what it could be done and what it actually is. In the current world, all of our data is concentrated in the hands of the privileged few, the ones that have money, influence, and power to collect, analyze and make sense of the data they have. On the other side, small players, especially small business owners, struggles to make sense of and obtain meaningful business actions from the even the most basic data tools such as Google Analytics.
Even worse, this “data gap” is worsening over the recent years. If we were to look at all data analytics startups in recent years, majority of them are still making tools for large corporations to help those businesses understand customer behaviors at a more granular level, target customers more specifically, and eventually, make more money. In these case, instead of being an agent of equality, data has been abused into becoming tools of the corporate machines to suppress and further exploit the ordinary people, it has become an agent of inequality…
Technologies should be created for people, to fuel the pursuit and preservation of universal values such as equality, freedom and happiness, but data is not. Being a machine of exploitation, data is no longer human, it is stock, scary, and boring, and we need to change that.
I am not going to pretend that I am some sort of data analytics expert: I always view myself a business person who happens to know data. But the fact is that the issues that I have described above do not require deep analytics capabilities to solve — it requires compassion, attention to user experiences, and deep conviction to create technologies that benefit the mass, instead of the privileged few that have monty to pay for expensive tools or analysts. What drives me to found Humanlytics, at least I hope, is the very thing that made Steve Jobs found Apple, Bill Gates found Microsoft, and Elon Musk found Tesla. We want to see a world where technology (in my case data) is usable and interpretable by everyone, the world where every small businesses down the street can use data to better their customer experiences and improve the experiences of customers — a world where data is used to create happiness, create liberty, instead of prohibiting them.
Today, my founding team and I embark upon a journey. We are not creating anything that is ground breaking or fundamentally different. Instead, we are going toward the other direction, to the small stuffs, the fundamentals, and try to do them really really well so small business owners can understand what they actually means and be able to leverage those fundamentals into improving their own businesses.
The ultimate goal of our company is impact. That’s the very reason after graduating I joined the Venture for America fellowship and moved to Cleveland (ventureforamerica.org). It is also the very reason I decided to forgo opportunities to join my family business in China and pursue a career in data here in the United States. I see a more urgent need in the place where data knowledge is scarce, where people are frustrated, and where I can help. Bottom line, like a spoiled Millennial, I want to help people through my work and make an impact.
So, what’s next? We are still in the early phases of Humanlytics where we are trying a lot of things out and seeing which ones help you the most. As a result, we will make a lot of free contents and tools to help small and medium sized business owners explore tools like Google Analytics, Social Media Platforms, and E-commerce platforms. Most of the contents are posted on our website (humanlytics.co), social media (twitter, facebook), or this medium account. We want your feedback on our contents.
Don’t tell me “Oh, what your tool is Amazing, I have never thought of that!” Things can be fancy and not work, and we don’t want that. We walk into this expecting some of the content or tools will suck, and it is your job to tell us what stinks and what does not. Either tell me, “Hey Bill, what you did, tool or article, actually helped me improve my business.” Or, “Gosh Bill, What is the thing that you just made, it totally did NOT make sense at all.” Your honest feedback will guide us through creating something that will actually create value for you, and that’s literally all we want.
Thank you for reading this article, as you may already have felt, this is something that I am really passionate about. So if you have any questions, concerns, comments, please email me at email@example.com. Looking forward to the conversations! :D