Digital Disruptors Do These 3 Things With Their Data

Digital disruption is much more than an abstract concept promoted by analysts and vendors; it is now an on-the-ground reality for most every organization. In a recent Forbes survey, 51 percent of executives reported a high level of risk to their organization (in terms of market share and revenue) over the next five years from technology-driven disruption by start-ups or innovations by incumbent companies.

What are these technology-driven companies doing that the other enterprises and brands are not? More than half of them are using data strategically as their main form of disruption. They use insight gathered from customer interactions to deliver super-personalized, meaningful experiences their customers have not seen elsewhere. In fact, 40 percent of executives in the survey reported monitoring customer data “all the time” to quickly identify which insights are most important and how to act on them.

How can other enterprises learn from these digital disruptors and what steps can they take to use data in a meaningful way? First, they must look at what data they are collecting and ensure it is the right data for understanding the customer journey. Then they should collaborate with partners using that data, which can positively influence the customer journey for both parties. Finally, they need to empower employees to identify trends in data and give them the autonomy to act on them. 

1. Determine what data you should be collecting.

There’s no denying it—data hoarding is a real issue in the marketing world. Marketers have the ability to collect much more data than ever before; every device or click translates to a data point on a potential customer. Many marketers now hoard every data point—collect it and move it to the cloud, where it is stored easily and inexpensively. There it stays until a mountain of data has amassed and the marketer realizes that they are either not using it effectively or not using it at all. They are paralyzed by the sheer amount of data they now have at their disposal and struggle to determine which data best informs business decisions and the customer journey.

To determine what data is right for your organization to collect, it is important to first understand your customers and their journey with your product or service. This takes a little reverse-engineering to understand how customers come onto your site, what information they look for, and how they make their way to purchase. It requires connecting several distinct data points, from the location of a mobile user accessing your online store to an IP address that clicks through your product page, or in-store purchase information that can be tied back to a known website visitor. Once you have connected data points, you can determine what data you actually need to collect to piece together the customer journey and what data is simply excess. For example, once you determine a buyer journey is typically two weeks, you wouldn’t need to store six months of IP addresses.

2. Use that data to develop higher-quality relationships with vendors, partners, and, ultimately, customers.

According to respondents of the same Forbes survey, the leading benefit of customer data initiatives is better-quality and more targeted interactions with partners and vendors. By understanding customers and their journey at a more intimate level, enterprises are able to engage with partners or vendors in a more targeted way, ensuring resources are well spent.

The technology ecosystem that your customer interacts with is increasing in complexity by the day. To succeed in this fragmented environment, vendors are beginning to open up their data and systems to partners in support of a common goal—a 360-degree enterprise view of customers. This new relationship with partners comes with some loss of control and customer ownership. However, the same can be said of the open-source community where developers contribute to shared software code to ultimately deliver a superior customer experience. To achieve true digital disruption using data, marketers must be comfortable working with partners across the tech landscape. 

3. Empower your employees to leverage data to find new revenue streams.

Research has shown time and again that employees who are empowered to make decisions and act with authority find value in their work, remain engaged, and stay at their jobs. In contrast, the Forbes research revealed that employees are not empowered to act on customer data insights. For the most part, employees can act on insights only with management approval (48 percent of respondents indicated this). Another 37 percent have a bit more leeway, empowered to act after consulting with managers. Only 14 percent have full autonomy to act on data insights without management oversight.

Here’s the thing: Even empowered employees do not necessarily have the data they need. As noted, companies have more data than ever before at their disposal for sales and marketing purposes—location, age, average site visit, etc. But increasingly, frustration arises because the data is kept within functional teams, siloed and out of reach of those who also need it. This affects employee engagement, productivity, and ultimately morale and performance. It’s critical that enterprises break down these siloes and provide access to the data each department needs.

Subaru recently recognized it needed a more complete picture of its customer data, so it worked across dozens of business units to gather all first-party data and third-party data into an enterprise customer data platform (CDP). Armed with a unified view of their customers’ journey that all departments had access to, employees were able to better identify where potential customers fit into the new car buyer journey and target those individuals more effectively. Empowering employees with the data they needed resulted in a 350 percent boost in new ad campaign performance, as targeted content was fed to segmented customers.

The Forbes survey reveals that digital disruption takes hold when enterprises take the time to identify what data they really need and what it reveals about their customer journey. In addition, partnering with other vendors in the data ecosystem is becoming an increasingly important part of understanding a customer due to the fragmentation of customer journeys. And once the right data is obtained, a majority of enterprises are turning to customer data platforms to do the heavy lifting of connecting the dots. These organizations end up being rewarded, as the survey shows that more than 80 percent of executives who saw their organizations as “customer-data-driven leaders” reported increased revenue over the past three years.

As chief marketing officer at Arm Treasure Data, Rob Glickman manages all aspects of marketing, including go-to-market strategy, demand generation, and corporate, product, partner, and industry marketing. A modern and metrics-driven marketer, Glickman has seen firsthand the critical need to unify customer data from multiple silos by creating and maintaining an accurate customer profile. Before joining Arm Treasure Data, Glickman was vice president of audience marketing at SAP, where he led a global team of marketers chartered with driving modern marketing demand-generation programs. He brings nearly 20 years of marketing experience, ranging from lean start-ups to large enterprises, including running product marketing for Symantec, as well as seven years at eBay, where he held various marketing leadership roles globally.

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