Gaining Inspiration for Data-Driven Innovation From Peers

According to a 2014 IBM study, three out of five mid-market executives have gained a competitive advantage from information and analytics. But with all the noise in the market about analytics, and unclear ROI from investments in data initiatives, it can be challenging for CEOs to right-size investments in analytics and create more effective data-driven organizations.

One helpful practice for focusing efforts is to find companies similar to yours and look at analytic approaches that have worked before making big investments in people, technology and processes for data projects. These three companies are doing it right.

“Start small. Before investing in a big data infrastructure, have a specific use case in mind and conduct focused experiments for solving particular problems.”

FleetRisk Advisors helps trucking and logistics organizations and commercial fleets improve their performance. They have access to mountains of data about their drivers and vehicles.  Predictive analytics has helped FleetRisk achieve a minimum of 20% reduction in overall accident rate and an 80% reduction in severe accidents. Identifying risk factors—especially those that contribute to driver fatigue—has helped them provide a more reliable service for their customers, protect valuable cargo, and most importantly, keep drivers and other road-users safe.

Plymouth Rock, an automobile insurance provider, faces an increasing competitive market from national brands known for low-cost services. They needed to focus on a specific niche, with messaging that resonated to the market. By doing a series of online multivariate tests targeted to educators, they increased online quotes 300% and reducing cost-per-quote by 33%. Personally, my experience with multivariate testing is similar and these kinds of results are very achievable with affordable new technologies. Multivariate testing tools enable marketers to quickly test hundreds (or thousands) of versions of a web page and find winners that produce quantifiable gains in key metrics.

Iron Mountain assists organizations across 36 countries and five continents with storing, protecting and managing information. With complex client needs and countless ways clients  interact with Iron Mountain, account management tactics used to be more reactive than proactive. By incorporating a predictive data model, account managers are now alerted if they have clients at risk of leaving, and their CRM system offers specific recommendations to help retain the client.

The number of cloud based solutions that help companies achieve results similar to the ones above are proliferating, yet according to the IBM study, only one-third of mid-market companies have adopted cloud technologies to achieve data-driven insights. Here are some tips for CEOs on how to bridge this gap:

  • Take inspiration from other companies in the market that have similar challenges as yours. Charge your team with proactively seeking examples of other companies worth emulating.
  • Start small. Before investing in a big data infrastructure, have a specific use case in mind and conduct focused experiments for solving particular problems.
  • Identify key data gaps. It’s vital that your organization “know what you don’t know” about your sales prospects, current customers and markets. We recommend a structured process for proactively identifying and fill key data gaps. This can yield golden insights and dramatic gains in sales and marketing effectiveness.

Data collection and analysis can be easy or it can be difficult. Following best practices and automating processes will ensure that you maximize your existing data with the minimum of cost and effort.

Brad Mehl is president of Boundless Markets, a data-driven B2B marketing consulting firm. He has over 20 years of experience growing revenue and leading digital transformation. Before Boundless Markets, he was Vice President of Marketing and Audience Development at Penton, a $300+ million business information and marketing services company. Prior to that he was GM of ThomasNet, a $200 million provider of B2B digital and marketing services. He also led marketing at two divisions of LexisNexis, where he helped start the software division, and at CDNOW (now part of where revenue grew from $6 million to $56 million under his leadership.