Show me the data! This is often heard in top management meetings and boardrooms. In fact, data today is being valued, evaluated, dissected, analysed much more than ever. Advancements in technology has led to a very promising new field of data analytics called Big Data. Most of the companies are trying to get as much data as possible from consumer to better their understanding and accordingly device their business strategies. There are a multitude of channels from online mobile databases, social media, sales, customer surveys, mystery shopping and calls etc All these are churning out data at a tremendous pace and variety. All this has led to variety of tools, algorithms and analytics to distil this data, and make sense out of it for it to be converted into some actionables.
However, despite this deluge of data and analytics, companies are finding it more challenging to keep their customers happy and to create sustainable profitable businesses. It is not always that managers have been able to get real actionable insights from this data which has led to desired outcomes. Somewhere, in large companies, disproportionately high importance and dependence upon structured, process based data collection and analysis, has led to middle and top management becoming distant and physically detached from the real market and consumers. Sometimes, this leads to a situation where ‘you get what you want’ and the analysis and presentation paints a desired picture and gets expected responses. This leads to a feeling that there is a strong consumer connect, and clearly things are all going well.
However large companies are struggling with the gaps between what is decided at the top level and the actual implementation on the ground. It’s becoming increasingly challenging to predict the success of new products as well as achievement of business objectives. Although companies are working on new innovative initiatives to better serve the customers yet there are existing customers who are feeling dissatisfied with the either the product/service delivery or support.
Its critical therefore for middle and senior management to stay rooted and not lose touch with the ground realities and not to be solely dependent upon data pouring into their e mail in-box. The insights and learning that one gets by engaging with the front end of business be it a retail store, an airline seat, a door-step delivery or a mobile connectivity complaint; interacting with customers and understanding the real issues on the ground is invaluable and irreplaceable.
That is why even today some of the progressive CEOs make it a point to spend time in the market, with their customers and get a first-hand feel. In fact, this real market connect and customer touch are the crucial ingredients to add a layer of business and human intelligence over data analytics that can help top management to make the right decisions. It’s important to realise that data is a great tool but it is not a replacement for business sense, market understanding or human intelligence & comprehension.
Moreover data freaks often have no clue what to look for and analytics then becomes a pursuit in looking for a needle in a haystack. Its like the blind leading the blind in a sense. In order to create sustainable competitive advantage its imperative to base your business on actionable insights gleaned through first hand interaction corroborated by the data. Big data stacks and Analytics alone cannot cut it.
Industry experts are calling for a “human-in-the-loop” approach to data science across multiple disciplines. When you think about it, curiosity is simply an organic algorithm processed in the human brain, the conclusion of which is “this is worth further study.” So the first thing a marketing analytics platform should trigger is the curiosity algorithm in the human, at the right time and place.
The big gap behind all the data that often remains is the ability to comprehend how and why consumers and customers do what they do.
For example, how many of us in business would pass the test of always keeping in touch with the consumer experience we promise; when did you last make and eat the products you manufacture and sell, climb a hill with the back pack you market, spend a night in the ICU of a hospital you own and run, listen into your BPO callers, or do a door delivery of hot food?
For this to happen, the message and the action has to begin from the Top. Not only will it give the top managers of the company a real insight into their business but also it will send a strong message down the entire organisation to keep in continuous contact with the real on-the-ground picture.
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