According to McKinsey & Company, executive teams that make extensive use of customer data analytics across all business decisions see a 126% profit improvement over companies that don’t. So what happens when you orchestrate a clear and undeniable connection between data and improved business outcomes at your company?
Ideally, you’d get an increased budget for investing in big data tools, support from formerly data-resistant team members and ultimately contribute to a more sound business. However, Gartner states by the end of 2015, 85% of Fortune 500 companies will be unable to exploit big data for competitive advantage. So if you work at a company that still raises an eyebrow at big data, here are a few steps you can take to become a data champion at your company.
Step 1: Assess exactly what types of data your company is already collecting
Whether it’s customers submitting contact information, purchasing something on your website or using a social authentication tool to login to your app, your company is likely quickly aggregating a good volume of insightful information. Make a list of all the different ways your company is collecting data — and what type of information they are gathering, whether it be email, zip code, income, purchasing history, etc. If you don’t know where to start, take a look at this infographic by DataFloq that shows what type of data the five largest tech companies collect about their customers.
Step 2: Find out how that data is currently being used
Once you’ve identified all your different sources of data, try and understand how this information is being applied to your business and which sources influence your bottom line. For example, your company might be using existing data to improve customer service or better understand who visits your site, but they might not be using it to understand things like brand affinities or customer lifetime value. Netflix is a perfect example of how data can be used creatively. Netflix took user data to a whole new level by not only offering faster load times and better customer service, but also by creating shows like “House of Cards” based on the viewing data of their customers. When looking at your data, think about what your customers are telling you — what they like, what they dislike, what they want more of — and think about how can you use that information to improve your business. Also, take into account other factors your data might point out – inefficiencies within the company or lack of insight around specific subject areas.
Step 3: Understand why your existing data isn’t being used
There could be a myriad of reasons why your company isn’t using your existing data. It could be a simple as people don’t know how to use the data available to them or something more complicated like they don’t have access to it. Try and get a sense of what the biggest roadblocks are at your company and jot those down. Get a clear picture of what’s stopping your company from being data-centric and if there is anything you can do about it. One of the biggest roadblocks we encounter with our clients at Umbel is that company data isn’t democratized, so existing data isn’t easily accessible by anyone at the company. By unifying their data and visualizing it, we’re able to help companies get a 360° view of their customers and make data-informed decisions.
**Umbel’s platform allows clients to unify all sources of customer data and visualize it**
Step 4: Identify areas of customer data you aren’t currently collecting, but need, in order to make better business decisions
You’ve already made a list of data that your company is sitting on, but what type of data do you need in order to make smarter decisions? If you’re a retailer, you might have transactional data, but do you also have beacon data that you can sync with the transactional data to know how often customers are coming into your store? Or if you’re a membership-driven organization, you might have data on how frequently someone comes to the gym, but is there a correlation to their age or time of day? Determine what areas of data collection you should be focused on in order to create a full and clear picture.
Step 5: Start visualizing
Data visualizations tell a powerful story. In fact, a survey by Aberdeen Group finds that managers in organizations that use visual data discovery tools are 28 percent more likely to find timely information than those who rely solely on managed reporting and dashboards. Moreover, 48 percent of business intelligence users at companies that use visual data discovery are able to find the information they need without the help of IT staff. Once you’ve honed in on the data that’s available to you, see if you can use any of these (mostly) free and easy to use tools as a way to start visualizing data.
**Segementing customers using the Umbel platform**
Step 6: Create a short-term and long-term plan
What can you do with the data that you have short-term? Being a one person data champion at your company is difficult, but are there areas where you can start keeping track of big data in order to prove its worth? Some basic areas to start with is moving over away from Excel spreadsheets and turning that data into visualizations. Also, when considering your long-term plan, think about who might need to be involved. Check out this useful list of the seven people you should have on your big data team to see how they might be able to help you to get some momentum. Alternatively, you can invest in a tool (like Umbel) that unifies all of your customer data and turns it into meaningful insights in just minutes and is accessible to anyone at your organization.
Step 7: Think about security
One of the most important steps when dealing with customer data is to ensure good governance around your data practices. Make sure that you’re adhering to privacy laws every step of the way. Having this mindset from the beginning will prevent a lot of unnecessary issues down the road.
Data is all around us, whether we’re the ones sharing it or mining it. If data is approached in a thoughtful way, the possibilities are limitless. You can create creative new programs for your audience, you can operate more efficiently, you can see things that you couldn’t see before about your customers. Follow these seven steps and by way of example, your company will hopefully start seeing the value of data.