Data is much like oil – it’s a raw commodity until you mine it, productise and do something with it
We are now living in a world that is increasingly driven by data thanks to the emergence of digital and cloud-based technologies and the proliferation of social mobility. As a result, there’s a dizzying amount of data at our fingertips, which has created a whole new level of business intelligence for companies to capitalise on.
It’s no coincidence that some of the most valuable companies in the world today — Google, Amazon, Uber, Airbnb and Facebook — are dominant because their businesses have been built not on product but on data from the outset.
Put simply, your data is now the secret sauce to both commercial and customer success in the 21st century.
At the same time, we are now living in the ‘Age of the Customer’ where consumers are now more savvy, more aware of their choices and thanks to digital, have higher expectations than ever before, putting them firmly in the driver’s seat.
As a result, as consumers, we now expect a more personalised, engaging experience from every brand we deal with, every time. We reward and punish based on our last interaction with an organisation and are not afraid to take to social channels to articulate our experiences – whether it be good or bad – to also influence our peer’s choices. And, thanks to the emergence of digital, consumers no longer compare your business to your competitors down the road but to those global brands who deliver relevant, seamless experiences every time. These companies use technology and data to show us they know us and add value to their customers’ lives at every opportunity in the buying journey.
To be truly data-driven, you have to incorporate every piece of information across your business. Data is much like oil – it’s a raw commodity until you mine it, productise and do something with it. You have to take raw data from across the business, combine it together and turn it into insights and information that you can action every day — otherwise it’s just a ‘so what’ that only tells a small part of the story, if anything at all.
To be truly data- driven, it must be cultural, structural and pivotal to everything you do.
Being data-driven means using all your data, regardless of division, team or legacy system, it's a holistic approach.
If you look at the metrics of what defines business success from a leadership perspective,traditional business measurement used to be all about profit and loss, production, efficiency and productivity. While all of these are obviously still at the fore, commercial success is also now measured by Net Promoter scores, customer communication volumes, clickthroughs, conversions and the number of shares and likes you have. That’s a massive shift in quite a short time frame from traditional metrics without us even realising it.
For this reason, data now needs to have a permanent seat at your company’s executive table and be integral to every decision you make.
What’s interesting is that many New Zealand businesses know they need to use their data assets more, but they still have a way to go in properly doing this. In a survey of Kiwi businesses in 2017 carried out by Data Insight, only 23 per cent thought they were at a mature stage in their data journey. The majority of businesses believed they were still either in early stages (23 per cent) or developing (43 per cent).
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I take heart from the fact that all those surveyed are actually doing something. However, becoming properly data driven in today’s fast-paced, commercial environment takes time and effort. Doing a few one-off projects or appointing a Chief Data Officer is simply not enough to be truly data-driven. It has to be cultural, structural and pivotal to everything you do and an enterprise-wide philosophy, not an individual business silo or team.
Being data-driven means using all your data, regardless of division, team or legacy system, it's a holistic approach. With the right structure, people and processes and by being fully aware of the risks to consider, smart businesses who put data at the heart of everything they do will better understand their customers and ensure they remain ahead of their competitors in this new digital, data-driven world.
5 key questions to ask to help your organisation become more data-driven:
- Data audit — what data do we have and where is it? Do we have a map of where it all sits throughout the business and what it is used for?
- What’s my strategy? How do we use the data we have and how are we leveraging it in the best way so that it is an enabler across the business?
- Who accesses the company data? Do we have the right policies, governance and processes in place to ensure our data is protected and the right visibility is provided to the right teams?
- What does tomorrow look like for my business? What data would we like to have in regards to channel, contacts, smart devices, social and customer preferences? What does our future strategy and technology roadmap look like?
- Do I have the right data capture, teams and tools in place to actually execute? Am I bringing together the left-brain and right-brain thinking of technology, data, marketing and creativity to deliver true customer centricity?
Quite simply, data insight is all about showing value and explaining the ‘why’ behind everything. Being data-driven is all about building the tools, technology, capabilities and, most importantly, the culture to act on data and drive the company’s strategy.
Make 2018 the year your company joins the ‘data revolution’ and differentiates itself from competitors by providing the best possible data-driven experience for your customers, right across your organisation.
Carmen Vicelich is founder and managing director of Data Insight. A self-confessed ‘data-geek’, Vicelich is passionate about helping clients deliver innovation and game-changing value through the power of data. She is also the author of ‘The Data Revolution’ - an executive guide to becoming a data-led business to compete in the ‘Age of the Customer’.
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