This is an excerpt from a panel discussion that featured senior analytics leaders Ganesh Rao, Senior Director, Windows & Search Business Planning Strategy at Microsoft, Pritam Baxi, CFO, Online Operations at Sears Holdings and Zoher Karu, VP, Global Customer Optimization & Data at eBay, at LatentView’s Fourth Analytics Roundtable
With customers demanding a multi-touchpoint experience, organizations are flooded with data of customer interactions. The key is to identify slivers of important data which can be leveraged to gain insight and guide marketing execution.
We live in an era what Forrester Research calls ‘The Age of the Customer,’ where customers and not companies are drivers of business decisions. Big Data has become the buzzword of this decade with an increasing number of companies leveraging data from different sources to acquire consumer insights. With the sheer volume of data available, a key question to be answered is: How do/should firms analyze data from different sources – both internal and external?
• It is no doubt tempting for organizations to look externally for more hyped data types. While external data can indeed be valuable, for performance sake it’s better to first focus on what you have, keeping an eye on technological developments externally. Companies do not require sophisticated data analytics tools or a fully mature analytics team to exploit digital data and derive insights. It is better to start small and think internally. Understanding these numbers will provide an opportunity for maximizing them. Pursuing big data with small, targeted steps can actually turn out to be fastest, inexpensive, and most effective.
• How then, should firms leverage data within the organization? Should they democratize the use of data to all decision makers or should firms be circumspect and share only relevant data with sufficient context for consumption? Which is the better method? Arguments can be made for both approaches. As more organizations seek to decentralize decision-making and increase responsiveness, they are seeking to empower more workers by putting meaningful data at their fingertips — essentially democratize the data. A plethora of analytics and data visualization tools has opened up new possibilities for sharing data across a business, but it has also introduced its own set of challenges for business owners and analytics teams.
• If you’re responsible for managing business data, you may be initially excited about the prospect of sharing data more widely within your organization. However, you soon succumb to the fear of how people will use and interpret the data. You don’t want to see people making flawed interpretations and bad decisions based on the data. This fear typically leads analytics teams to clamp down who can access the data and how much individuals can see. There is no one size fits all approach. It has to be taken completely on a case-to-case basis.
• The ubiquity of data and data-driven decision making are requites for an organization’s success. Although firms have not yet caught up on analyzing all of these data streams, some progress has been made. For instance, leveraging social media data to enhance and supplement perception data. This is an area of future focus for firms.