Week 1: big data and business intelligence for netflix

In 2005, Netflix had a thriving business renting movies on DVD through the mail. The company’s then-famous red mailing envelopes were everywhere. However, Netflix saw the writing on the wall that streaming videos over the Internet would one day become more popular than buying and renting physical media. In 2007, Netflix disrupted its own successful business by launching an online video streaming service. This bold move enabled Netflix to continue to grow, even as the popularity of DVDs declined and competitors like Blockbuster, that remained tied to physical media, declared bankruptcy and went out of business. Today, Netflix is a multi-billion dollar Fortune 500 company that dominates the video streaming market, produces its own original award-winning movies and TV series, and has well over 100 million subscribers.

It was good business intelligence that allowed Netflix to see that the future of video rentals was online streaming, and make the transition away from physical discs before any of its competitors. Today, Netflix faces new challenges with continued advances in technology; the rise of competing streaming services from many other providers, including Disney, CBS, and Amazon; and shifting consumer preferences for what to watch and how to watch it.

Suppose you were put in charge of a new business intelligence database project to help Netflix executives foresee and deal with coming challenges. How might you carry out such a project, and how could it help the company?

To begin, consider the first step in the database life cycle, the database initial study. How would you do a database initial study for a business intelligence database at Netflix today? What is the company’s situation, and what problems and constraints does the company face? How would you define the objectives, scope, and boundaries for a business intelligence database at today’s Netflix?

What are some sources for large quantities of data (big data) that Netflix could tap, and how could the company use these data sources to stay ahead of competitors?

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