One of a company's most important assets is its data. Its primary function is to determine how well your business is doing, and it may also be used to indicate areas that require additional attention. However, is data utilisation truly that straightforward?
Acquiring the data is the easy part; but, data is complex and contains numerous moving pieces. There is also the question of data ownership and compliance. Have your consumers opted in? And then there's the matter of knowing what to do with the data. Because data is only valuable if one understands how to use it.
When used properly, data can be a business's silver bullet. It can assist you in acquiring new consumers, enhancing customer service, increasing customer retention, tracking social media interactions, forecasting sales trends - and more.
We speak to industry experts and ask them to provide their thoughts on the value of data in today's business landscape.
Embracing data to improve business internally and externally
Emmanuel Kalunga, Head of Data Science and Business Intelligence at OrderIn:
Personalisation and the customer experience have become increasingly important over the past decade, and with the rise of the on-demand environment calling for more intricate, instant and interactive customer experiences, organisations have now put data as it relates to consumers at the centre of their strategies.
But as expectations continue to evolve, the use of data now requires that companies go beyond just having a list of names and addresses. Now, organisations must use data as a design target for every physical and virtual touchpoint - particularly as Artificial Intelligence (AI) infiltrates and aids internal operations as well.
But using data is not a static activity that happens on an adhoc basis. An 'always analysing, always using, always learning' approach must be adopted if organisations are to remain at the pulse of a dynamic industry. For this purpose, Orderin has created and makes use of its AI-powered driver management platform, Jarvis, to assign and track orders and consistently improve it's delivery efficiency.
The fact is, data will continue to take up more space in the boardroom. Looking forward, the industry must place more focus on smart automation and intelligence to create leading efficiency in service delivery.
The four benefits of becoming data-driven
Greg Gatherer, Account Manager at Liferay Africa:
Many businesses struggle to develop a strong data-driven culture and use data to inform their decision-making. While there are many challenges involved in making this shift internally, there are numerous benefits that will help make the effort and investment worthwhile.
Gaining a better knowledge of customers with a single customer perspective, recognising broader trends through segmentation and visualisation of vital data, optimising user experience, and improving web performance based on page insights are all advantages of becoming data driven.
With ever-increasing amounts of data, businesses have a great opportunity to glean insights and use them to make better decisions.
Gaining a deeper understanding of consumer preferences and behaviour enables for continuous improvement of the customer experience and overall satisfaction levels. By overcoming existing data silos and providing vital customised experiences, a digital experience platform can be best suited to integrate and unify disparate systems to serve the customer better.
Brent Haumann, Managing Director, Striata:
Orchestration, simply put, involves taking millions of data points and ordering them in a way that enables a specific, hyper-personalised experience. From the moment a customer interacts with your organisation, on whatever platform, the direction of each next step is determined by a set of criteria (imagine a tree branching off) that is unlikely to be the same for any two individuals. The end result is a truly individualised journey for each customer.
Intelligent orchestration means the system improves its ability with each additional data point, and makes increasingly intelligent decisions. Across channels (call centre, social media, communication), the system makes a decision on the next best step to send the right message on the right channel, at the right time.
It’s able to do so because of artificial intelligence executing algorithms to make decisions based on masses of data.
Brands must have a strategy and a plan for data collection
Shaune Jordaan, Hoorah Digital Founder & Chief Commercial Officer:
Leveraging the true value of data in a responsible way requires a data strategy and plan. It’s only when data is associated with business value, operational efficiency and client retention, that it will enjoy the essential priority and investment necessary to drive measurable returns.
This means having a data plan. That may well start with the collection of relevant data, but for ultimate success what’s needed over and above that is the creation of an organisational culture that understands and values the importance of that data in driving the business’s objectives. Crucially, it also includes respecting and protecting customer data.
Applying the right kind of data, as with technology in general, has the potential to streamline operational efficiencies, and strengthen the quality of decision making. When it comes to creativity in marketing, and advertising in particular, data takes the guesswork out of the equation.
Using data to improve all aspects of your business
Jonathan Hurvitz, CEO of Teljoy:
Data is a fundamental business resource and something that we rely on heavily to ensure that our offering to our customer is relevant and timely. But more than that, data needs to be understood and embraced by every function of the organisation as central to our digital capability and focus on evolving with the market.
This means that data cannot (and is not) something that is confined to the IT department but is rather the bedrock on which all strategic and operational decisions are based - it’s a crucial business asset. As such, a key focus for us currently is to ensure all stakeholders in the business understand the role and value of data, including the responsible use thereof.
It’s important to acknowledge that, while brimming with potential to solve business challenges, data in and of itself is not a silver bullet. It still relies on human input, analysis, creativity and lateral thinking to derive the right value from it.
How to use the data efficiently
Pete Geyser, Head of PR and Marketing at Irvine Partners:
In order to benefit from data, you need to understand how to use it. User data has evolved dramatically from the excel sheets of old filled with rows upon rows of names, mobile numbers and email addresses for the sales team to work through. Data collection assists with developing of buyer personas in order to develop higher converting sales funnels, create targeting marketing campaigns, A/B test landing pages, analyse the effectiveness of media channels in relation to revenue generated instead of just traffic to site.
Data should be at the core of every decision made within a company wanting to scale and having people in your business that can not only read, but interpret the data is of paramount importance. Marketing, Sales and even customer service and customer experience should all be optimised using both internal and external data where available.
Strategy is critical
While data is critical for both large and small businesses, it is ineffective unless it is utilised. Businesses must have a data strategy in place in order to maximise their data's value. The data strategy should explain, among other things, how you want to use the data, what data you'll require, where you'll obtain it, and how you'll store it.