Industry Trends 2013 – United we (under)stand

Joined up customer insight

Information is a free spirit, it eddies and flows through an organisation, scorning borders and showing no respect to departments or divisions.

It’s no surprise then that the arch villain in the business data story is the silo. Silos are artificial fortresses that try to keep people and things apart.  Silos usually form around departmental boundaries, so there are barriers between sales and marketing, IT and logistics.

Each department collects the data it needs and ignores information that it doesn’t. Each bit of the business holds a jigsaw piece but nobody can see the bigger picture needed to put them all together and solve the puzzle. In a cross-channel world, the danger of silos increases, with on and offline channels amassing vast amounts of customer information that is rarely shared.

So a business might invest in: social media insight; online research; review panels; POS analytics; web analytics; and email analytics. This is great, but without the ability to unite these metrics, or at least look at them holistically, it will only ever be a collection of disjointed fragments.

Let’s take a practical example. Company A has discovered that its website is not as effective a sales channel as its rivals’. But what is the issue and how do they solve it? Is there a problem with the site, or specific part of the site — such as poor navigation or a clunky payment process? Is it a problem with SEO, with customers unable to find the company and its products? Is it that home delivery is slower or more expensive than the competition? Or are prices the issue?

Company A needs to find out what’s going on — and fast — because the longer it’s in the dark, the more customers it’ll lose.

Company A now works with a specialist data partner that combines, for example, market analysis, digital insight, web analytics and customer behavioural insight. Suddenly the lights come on and Company A can see that its search terms don’t align with its customers’ behaviours and that their online payment system needs an overhaul.

This takes cross-channel expertise, which is often promised but rarely delivered. A specialist web analytics company won’t be able to tell you much about customer demographics and even less about the dynamics between the two.

So when you’re looking for a data partner remember, with data divided we fail, but united we (under)stand.

Don’t miss my next Industry Trends 2013 post: Less waste — more speed, real time analysis for speed to market.

If you missed my first post in this series you can find it here: Industry Trends 2013 – Small steps towards big data


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