Will ‘big data’ become your worst nightmare?

by Marc Sokol on October 12, 2011


Image by shvmoz via Flickr

Could this happen to your company….

When the executive convened a group of senior leaders to dig into the competitor’s practices, they found that the challenge ran deeper than they had imagined. The competitor had made massive investments in its ability to collect, integrate, and analyze data from each store and every sales unit and had used this ability to run myriad real-world experiments. At the same time, it had linked this information to suppliers’ databases, making it possible to adjust prices in real time, to reorder hot-selling items automatically, and to shift items from store to store easily. By constantly testing, bundling, synthesizing, and making information instantly available across the organization—from the store floor to the CFO’s office—the rival company had become a different, far nimbler type of business.

Are you ready for the era of big data?
McKinsey Global Institute.

Big data results from enterprises that track everything along the customer and supplier value chain. It might even be the next strategic asset companies include in due diligence when considering an acquisition. Imagine increasing the valuation of another firm because it has first-rate analytics group and a technology infrastructure that is compatible with your own business.

The authors pose several questions for executives to consider, and below they are restated as propositions that will either help your company win or leave you helpless in the face of a more nimble, astute competitor.

1. As massive amounts of data become widely available, capturing every nuance of customer behavior across all parts of the value chain, competitive edge go those who figure out how to mine that data for practical value.

2. Those with an embedded organizational ability to test, to test often, and test well will more quickly leverage the data available. If you ever read Paco Underhill’s classic book, Why we buy, just imagine that capability to monitor, assess and predict customer behavior across all of your brands, across all customer segments, and in response to any marketing initiative. Now imagine being able to do it fast, really fast! Look for the rise of customer insight groups in companies that get this message in a big way.

3. Speed no longer just being faster than the other guy (you know that old joke – you don’t have to outrace the bear, just the guy next to you). Speed, in the world of big data, is the ability to create nearly real-time customization of offers that capitalize on pre- and post-purchase behavior. Consider how Amazon can quickly post a message, “Customers who bought this item also bought…” before you conclude your purchase. Now put that capability on data-driven steroids with an analytics team that knows how to leverage the data.

And now look at your own company:

How are the directors in Marketing, IT, Operations and Strategy working together to get a handle on the coming era of big data?

Is the customer analytics group celebrated as a resource to beat the competition or are they just considered geeks in the back room?

Who is leading the charge to leverage big data across your firm?

Oh, and if you think you can just wait until the era of big data finally arrives, then you might relate to the picture above. Big data is already here.

BestCustomerConnection, by Marc Sokol

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Tribute to Steve Jobs and all inspired by him

by Marc Sokol on October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs shows off iPhone 4 at the 2010 Worl...

Image via Wikipedia

You probably know by now that Steve Jobs died today, October 5th.  His life story can be read here. Below I invite you to pause to consider one of the many comments in response to his passing. It was a reminder of the original Apple “Think Different” ad and a fitting tribute to Jobs’ spirit and actions; it’s good advice to all of us:

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes.

The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward.

Maybe they have to be crazy.

How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?

While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Thanks to “Ted” of Venice, CA for reminding us of these words. They are worth repeating.

BestCustomerConnection, by Marc Sokol

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