In the Mad Men days, big brands had to make an educated guess about what clients wanted. They could ask their clients, but even those answers were often times masked with bias or politics.
Netflix cut through all that nonsense with a strictly data-driven decision in the way they designed The House of Cards. They collected data on millions of users and identified trends. Kevin Spacey lovers would tend to watch multiple movies starring Spacey. They also saw a trend with David Fincher’s pictures.
They used this data to engineer a streaming video product with a high chance of success. This sounds like the type of story that would have a bad ending, studio executives trusting a formula more than instinct, but in this case, the results were stunning. House of Cards was one of the most successful TV series of all time, and because people could binge-watch (seeing an entire season in one long sitting if they wanted,) they were able to convert a large number of fans quickly. Release the series all at once was also a data-driven decision after watching the success of The West Wing’s release on Netflix.
So what does this have to do with law firms? Law firms also have loads of data through web analytics, billing, industry segmentation, and more—but they are so busy doing the work that they rarely prioritize combining and analyzing the data in a way that will help them make better decisions.
There was no guarantee that a Spacey flick would be a hit or that something by Fincher would be a huge success, but the data allowed Netflix to hedge their bets in a very effective way. Law firms would be wise to follow suit by paying better attention to the story the data tells.