How to Turn Your Data into Dollars

If there’s one key fac­tor defin­ing whether a busi­ness is going to be suc­cess­ful in the future, it’s how well it uses, acts on and man­ages its data. Busi­ness­es that put data at the cen­tre of their oper­a­tions are sure to see huge improve­ments, from increased rev­enue, to improved effi­cien­cy, greater cus­tomer loy­al­ty, high­er prof­its and increased mar­ket cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion – to name a few.

See data in a new light

The first step to unlock­ing the true val­ue of your data is find­ing out what you are cur­rent­ly col­lect­ing across the entire busi­ness, where it’s stored and in what for­mat. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this isn’t always as sim­ple as it sounds. Soft­ware solu­tions can be acquired cheap­ly and eas­i­ly, but they rarely offer any cen­tral strat­e­gy or over­sight. These are gen­er­al­ly good for solv­ing prob­lems quick­ly, but often result in infor­ma­tion silos, which actu­al­ly ham­pers the process of integration.

The good news is, pur­pose-built cus­tomer intel­li­gence soft­ware can often help to break these silos down, by mak­ing data cen­tral­ly avail­able via one com­mon plat­form. Be sure to also con­sid­er which oth­er depart­ments might ben­e­fit from the data you’re col­lect­ing and encour­age them to make use of it. Once depart­ments see the ben­e­fits of data shar­ing, they’ll be more like­ly to impart their own.

Understand the value of your data

The val­ue of data has changed over the years. Ini­tial­ly it could only be used to find out the results of a par­tic­u­lar cam­paign. This was known as descrip­tive ana­lyt­ics. Now, with high quan­ti­ties of data avail­able, busi­ness­es can engage in pre­dic­tive ana­lyt­ics, allow­ing them to fore­cast the most like­ly result of a par­tic­u­lar mar­ket­ing mes­sage or activ­i­ty. And with high speed ana­lyt­ics, com­pa­nies can now work out what will dri­ve cus­tomer behav­ior, at that pre­cise point in their jour­ney. Take Ama­zon, for exam­ple. By exam­in­ing the pur­chas­ing pat­terns of their cus­tomers, they can com­pare them to sim­i­lar trans­ac­tions and then pro­duce per­son­alised rec­om­men­da­tions for what cus­tomers might want to buy next.

Be wary of walled gardens

Pro­tect­ing your cus­tomer data doesn’t just mean keep­ing it safe from hack­ers. It also means lim­it­ing access by third-par­ty “walled gar­den” envi­ron­ments like Face­book, LinkedIn and Google. On the one hand, these plat­forms have enor­mous reach, and the user data they col­lect allows them to deliv­er high­ly tar­get­ed adver­tis­ing. On the oth­er hand, these plat­forms use the data they col­lect for them­selves, only shar­ing aggre­gat­ed, par­tial reports with their clients.

This has two sig­nif­i­cant impli­ca­tions. First­ly, if a cus­tomer has inter­act­ed with your brand with­in a walled gar­den, you won’t be able to access the entire­ty of the data sur­round­ing that inter­ac­tion. This results in a frag­ment­ed, incon­sis­tent and frus­trat­ing expe­ri­ence for your cus­tomer. Sec­ond­ly, walled gar­dens sell their ser­vices to any­one will­ing to pay, allow­ing your com­peti­tors to tar­get peo­ple inter­est­ed in your prod­ucts or services.

One thing is clear – the more data you col­lect, the more you’ll under­stand your cus­tomers’ behav­iour. And when you have an effi­cient cus­tomer intel­li­gence plan in place, you’ll be in a bet­ter posi­tion to pre­dict their behav­iour. Fol­low­ing this, you’ll be able to tar­get them with the types of mes­sages most like­ly to add value—for both of you.

Once your cus­tomer ana­lyt­ics is in place and the whole busi­ness is work­ing from the same sin­gle view of the cus­tomer, every cus­tomer inter­ac­tion with your busi­ness will feel coher­ent and con­sis­tent. That’s the hall­mark of the cus­tomer expe­ri­ences deliv­ered by the world’s most suc­cess­ful brands.