Some problems are “oak tree problems” and being a data-driven enterprise is one of them. An oak tree problem is one that is characterized by the need to have started working on the problem quite a way back in the past while also being specifically relevant today. The Chinese proverb “The best time to plant an oak tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.” describes this idea to perfection.
I began my career in retail technology in 1992, a few years before Amazon began selling books online and would, as we all know, go on to forever redefine retail and consumer behavior. In all that time, data about customers, inventory, service, and marketing simmered below the surface of retail organizations — never rising to the level of prioritization that would have empowered us to leverage it to full effect.
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