Is this the end of The Once-ler?

I don’t know if everyone is familiar with The Once-ler from the Dr Seuss story, The Lorax. If not some reading – The Once-ler

Now we all know who he is, he tells the Lorax in the story that

You never can tell what some people will buy.

However, due to the advent of Machine Learning and Big Data, you CAN tell what people will buy! Cloud platform providers like Azure and Amazon offer services you can build upon to process and interpret large data-sets to draw conclusions or make recommendations based on what the data says. Companies like IBM or SAS offer the insight and reporting solutions without you having to develop your own applications.

Does this mean that the human element of taking a chance of a product or service based on past experience and “gut feel” is coming to an end? Let’s look a bit closer at the Once-ler’s quote.

The Once-ler invents and sells a Thneed, the Lorax mocks him till more and more people buy Thneeds and the Once-ler’s business grows (to the detriment of the land and environment surroundings, a great warning for current worldwide issues, but that would be a whole different topic). The Once-ler is operating on the possibly now outmoded assumption that people’s buying habits can be unpredictable, however massive amounts of funding, research and computing hours are being spent in order to remove this unpredictability. Businesses need to be able to predict what you will buy and target you with these products and services. Their ability to stay competitive in the modern marketplace relies on them understanding what will sell and what won’t, and to whom.

So what do you think? Could the Once-ler survive in business now without this insight?