A Lesson from Succession: Inflated Metrics as a C-Suite Problem
Cyber Risks & Threats | May 09, 2023
Before I go ahead and dive into this topic, I should preface that this post includes a spoiler from Season 4, Episode 7 of Succession. So come back to this post later if you still plan on watching!
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way – This week’s episode of Succession brought to light a C-suite-level problem that is surprisingly often overlooked.
At the company’s pre-election party, a key issue with Lukas Matsson’s metrics comes into play. It is revealed, initially by Ebba during a moment of frustration, that the number of GoJo subscribers in India is wildly inflated. In fact, Matsson later admits that the numbers would only be accurate “if there were two Indias.” When Shiv finds out about this, she refers to it as a “ticking time bomb” and a major concern for both her future within the business and the concept of business continuity, as well as the future of their company.
We’ll have to tune into next week’s episode to see what actually happens with this deal, but we don’t have to wait to see how this concept of inflated users could negatively impact a business and drive down both customer trust and confidence for a board of directors or investors.
We’ve already seen this happen in the real world. Look at what happened to Frank – a startup that JPMorgan had acquired before realizing they had more than 4 million fake customer accounts. The finance giant has now filed a lawsuit against Frank and continues to pursue corrective actions.
It goes without saying that all major business decisions are made based on data. Whether it is a situation of mergers and acquisitions – as it was in the Frank example. Or internal decisions about what channels to invest in, what products are getting the most traction, or which departments to grow and scale – if the metrics you’re making decisions on are unreliable, you’ll end up making really bad decisions that could ultimately cost you valuable business.
Being able to trust business data is mission-critical, yet even the largest, most established businesses (aka the Waystar Royco’s of the world) can sometimes lack visibility when it comes to who is real, who is a bot, who is a fake account, who is a malicious human, and who is guiding their most key decisions. In short, fake traffic poisons everything.
If you’re interested in learning more about what happens on Succession, tune into HBO on Sunday nights. And if you’re interested in correcting this problem for your company, let’s have a chat.