Comparing against Next Generation – it’s Tough

I want to take you back in time in my time machine, back to the 1900’s and the new age of the automobile. Henry Ford has not yet perfected the mass production on the motor car, they are still the preserve of the rich and the average car is expensive – putting them out the reach of an average family. Though the car market is booming like no time before, it is still very small.

We land the time machine and I give you a simple job, help me sell the modern car to the people of the 1900’s. Easy right? Let’s see how things might pan out for you….

Look what you’re up against, it’s archaic, a relic from a bygone age. You set up a stand advertising a new way; a cheaper, modern alternative to the old way of doing things, effectively democratising automobiles for everyone. It will allow longer, faster journeys and with the effects of (de)inflation your cars are cheap enough for anyone to afford, surely this will be a piece of cake.

A portly gentleman in a bowler hat, clearly of means, pulls up and climbs down from his motor car.

Sir”, you say, “ould you like to take a trip with me in the car of the future? I feel confident it will revolutionise how you think about driving”.

“I don’t think we need to do that”, he counters, “A motor car will take you from A to B, they’re all the same really aren’t they? I don’t need to see it to believe it will work, I’ve seen hundreds of cars.”

Okay so a test drive would have helped you show him what he was missing, but it’s not really necessary as you have a compelling argument.

“Well Sir, my modern car is slightly different. Mine will take you from 0 – 60mph in just a few seconds, and will go considerably faster if you want it to, and what’s more everyone is driving them where I come from.”


1918 Oakland Tribune - click to read the full article

1918 Oakland Tribune – click to read the full article

 “?!”, a look of absolute horror crosses your new friends face,“I don’t think we want that now do we, they’ll kill themselves. Anyway we have a 20 mph speed limit in the 1900’s. Whatever next? Ha, you’ll be telling me you let women drive the blasted things!”

This last statement takes you back, you’d forgotten the prejudice of this bygone age, but you try not to let it show. You give a nervous laugh and carry on unfazed.

“Sir, my car is easily afforded by even an average family, everyone should be able to go from A to B no matter what their social standing”

Another harrumph, “I doubt it can be as well made as Mr Benz’s machines in that case, his are expensive for a reason, they are quality machines, not just for anyone“, he’s not convinced by your arguments. 

“I assure you there’s no difference in quality sir, and in fact mine is easier to use. I mean take a look at enormous hand-crank you need to use to get yours started, it doesn’t look easy to get her going.”

The gentleman smiles, clearly proud, he leans back and pulls out his braces, now in his element “It isn’t, but I’ve become quite the master I can tell you, on a cold morning I can start her in under 15 minutes.“. He looks for your approval, but you frown, his smile wavers when you say “but I can start mine immediately, with a tiny key….” but his frown is fleeting.

Well that tiny thing won’t work old chap“, he’s enjoying himself now, clearly starting to think you’re a bit of a nutcase “You’ll never get the engine turned over with that will you?!

Your patience is wearing thin, “Well with our way of doing things in the future, we don’t physically turn over the engine, we simply…”, but your friend is clearly not listening, he interrupts: “Listen my friend, no cars going to get started unless you turn over the engine, I’m an expert on these things, that’s the way we do things here”.

You make to continue the conversation, but the gentleman stops you, “Listen sonny, I’ve heard it all before and its poppycock, look at what I was offered last week.” He shows you a picture:

As you look over the picture he continues, “That thing looked more like a car that that monstrosity you’re touting, and that didn’t work, why should yours be any different?”…he turns on his and walks away.

Okay, you get the picture, analogy over…

Clearly it’s difficult to imagine the next generation, especially when you compare it to the standard today. It’s also only too easy to translate the message above back into software and “Next Generation” Data and Analytics. The market is still only just beginning and we don’t know what’s around the corner, but here are some thoughts on how to open your eyes to the potential that might be there:

1. Make sure the first thing you do is take a demo. Comparing features, particularly against the “standard”, can only get you so far and your list of features will undoubtedly miss the point – you can’t add features you don’t know about. You’ll unduly bias towards the status quo.

2.  Be willing to change. Democratising data isn’t easy, no one said it would be. It involves turning things on their head and perhaps getting a little bit uncomfortable, you might not be ready to drive at 80 mph yet but you might want to get out of first gear (or even let the women drive!).

3. Take it for a test drive yourself, that propeller driven car might look great in the demo but can you, in fact everyone who has access to data, take it for a spin? Again don’t expect it to be all plain sailing, you might hit a few bumps, but it should be a considerably smoother ride than you’re used to.

4. Be prepared to accept something that looks a bit different than what you’re used to.

With that in mind I’m going to sign off, and hopefully see you at Tableau #data14. Make sure you check out Alteryx while you’re there…you might just be seeing the future…




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