How Data is Shaping some of the Biggest Brands

With the growth of the IoT and machine learning, and policies such as GDPR demanding accountability, the amount of data and data sources collected by organisations has grown exponentially. Consultant, Rachel Sim discusses how this data can be invaluable when it comes to decision making, and why businesses should consider developing a data strategy.

Not only is data in high demand, so are the data professionals required to make sense of it! Calls for analysts, engineers and scientists to collect, analyse, clean and report on the information acquired have grown massively in the last 5+ years. Fortunately, organisations are recognising the fantastic commercial value and advantage this can give an organisation; no matter which sector, location or size. By determining what data should be collected and how it should be processed, organisations can develop astute insight into consumer behaviour, trends, opportunities for growth and potential threats to business success.

A report by Deloitte, identified the key pillars of a data strategy. The first pillar is to understand the sources of data; this will look significantly different from organisation to organisation but this often relates to finances, product and service information, logistics and supply chain, or usership and customer information. It’s likely that organisations are already collecting this information so getting started on your data journey might not be as out of reach as perceived. Although smaller orgnaisations may struggle to have the finances or manpower to manage a dedicated data team, investments in the short term could result in monumental pay-offs in the long run.

There are lessons to be learned from some of the best-known brands. I remember Disney as videos and DVDs with dedicated numbers on the cases outlining their position within the Disney release order. Today, disks are a thing of the past; a Netflix, Now TV or Disney+ subscription is far more common than a DVD player. Disney+ and streaming services have adopted a data-driven approach, collecting data on our viewing habits, and machine learning is now a key component of their strategy. By understanding what will keep us in front of the screen for longer, big brands can secure more of our investment in terms of money, time, interest and loyalty.

Not only are Disney+ collecting this information for targeted marketing purposes, all employees have access to this information so they can respond and adapt the offering to customers in real-time. If you call up customer services complaining that you’re not happy with the offering, straight away the customer services team sitting in an office hundreds or even thousands of miles away from you can view your activity and use personal information to influence and persuade your next film of choice: happy customer, happy Disney.

Similarly, many consumers are opting for the convenience of groceries delivered direct to your door. Using algorithms designed to upsell to you based on perceived tastes and prior purchase history, it’s now easier than ever for Tesco, Asda or Sainsbury’s to turn what you planned to be a £40 shop for the essentials, into filling your cupboards with unnecessary snacks and treats to last you weeks. As a consumer, data collection and this targeted approach is a controversial topic, with many feeling it is a breach of their privacy. However, for organisations (big or small), using data can catapult their business success.

Data has become essential for customer retention, developing your offering to meet demands and exploiting potential growth markets. Becoming data-driven requires expertise and fantastic commercial insight and resources, which often prevents smaller organisations from setting up a data function or capitalising on this opportunity. However, this may be more accessible than one might think. Starting small with just one data professional in an organisation can be enough to begin utilising data to make smarter commercial decisions, and starting at around £45,000 per annum for a data specialist, the return on investment could be well worth it.

For an informal conversation about setting up your data function, please contact [email protected].

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