Transforming Customer Data

Companies are gathering more customer data than ever before. But data collected from customers is useless unless it can be transformed into actions that have an impact on your business and go beyond selling products and services to delivering outcomes. And data does make a difference: A 2014 Accenture analysis reports that of the companies that utilize Big Data—which industry research firm Gartner defines as high-volume, high-velocity and high-variety information assets—94% use it to identify new sources of revenue, and 89% use it to develop new products and services.Combining Big Data with smarter systems to make a business run better is the very definition of the Intelligent Enterprise.

While it’s easy to get bogged down by the volume of information available, there are ways to ensure that you’re gaining insights that can ultimately drive business decisions.

Identify the most useful data
Big Data can be collected from a variety of sources, including machines and sensors, social media and mobile technology. And the amount of data available is nearly endless. Increase your efficiency in data-gathering by looking for sources that are readily available and adaptable to your needs. Consider beginning with in-house, point-of-sale data, then slowly add data from sources like aggregators, social media platforms, financial institutions and credit-card processors.

Start small and stay flexible
Once you’ve established a data set, develop a clear understanding of what your company wants to learn from it to begin creating an Intelligent Enterprise. Start small: Focus a pilot program on one area of your business and develop questions that will lead to actionable outcomes in that area using emerging intelligent technologies such as automation, cognitive computing and intelligent software. For example, a hotel chain might want to increase bookings around airports. By observing that bookings go up when flights are canceled due to inclement weather, the company could use weather data to send targeted ads to mobile devices in affected areas in real time.

It’s equally important to stay flexible. You may find that you need to tweak your questions or even your data set to address new concerns as they arise.

Develop a strategy for continued success
To ensure that a Big Data program leads to improvement and change, it is important to get departments such as IT, marketing and sales on board from the start. Make sure members of these teams receive the technology support, training and key technologies they need to turn the insights gleaned from your data into outcomes that your customers value. It may also make sense to bring in outside talent and resources—including data scientists and analysts and software engineers and developers—to provide additional support.

Organizational change is a complex process, and it will take time for data-based decision-making to embed itself in your corporate culture. But with the right technologies in place, your company can use software intelligence to manage Big Data not only to learn more about your customers, but also provide them with personalized experiences and meaningful results.