Back in 2017, while covering the London terrorist attacks, I remember picking up on a story that emerged in social media. Uber was being slammed because they had forgotten to turn off their price surge feature during the attacks, and due to the high demand of people trying to flee the scene, ride prices were more expensive than usual. Machine learning, algorithms, and analytics are a great tool to prescribe the actions a company must take in order to reach their goals. If the market is in high demand, it makes sense to raise the prices, and take advantage of a strong brand with low price elasticity. The same principle can be applied to everything in Home Depot during spring cleaning season, or the price of TV sets right before the Superbowl.
Machines can learn as much as they want, but they do not have feelings. When tragedy happens you still need human emotions to take decisions that will support corporate responsibility, and above all, basic human solidarity in adverse times. Past the social media backlash, Uber took action, and refunded the money to those affected while using the service trying to escape from the area. Later that year, they waived the fees to the victims of Las Vegas massacre. This time they were not reactive, but proactive.
Analytics, machine learning, and big data are very valuable. Transforming the information contained in these numbers into actionable strategies is essential to leverage the competition. Mistakes like this would continue to occur, and it is also the job of the marketer to understand the process that goes behind this automated analyses, and machine learning processes, in order to react proactively and protect the brand. It is no secret that technology is transforming the world exponentially, and learning the basic concepts, understanding what’s happening under the hood of these calculations is key to every one that aspires to be a leader in the industry and remain relevant. The KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) we are using right now, will too become obsolete, our careers do not have to.
STATUS: You too will make another mistake, make sure that your goals are clear, and next time try to fall while running towards the finish line.