As you work with your CMO to take maximum advantage of all the customer insight opportunities Big Data offers, keep in mind that the devil in Big Data could be in these overlooked details.
1. Secure your data. For companies that are collecting and storing vast amounts of customer data, the most obvious threat is a massive security breach of the sort that has plagued Sony, Anthem, Target and many more. Hundreds of companies have experienced data breaches just in the past few years, all because the people hacking into corporate databases have been more ingenious and persistent than the people trying to keep them out.
The Solution: Better cybersecurity doesn’t just mean a well-intentioned policy review—it means committing to a long-term investment in the infrastructure and personnel needed to safeguard what is rapidly becoming every organization’s most important asset.
2. Try not to drown. Big Data isn’t just more information; it’s tsunamis of information coming from all directions at once, and at speeds and volumes humanity has never seen before. The possibility of drowning in all of it is very real. So is the possibility of wasting a lot of your staff’s time, energy and resources wading through oceans of irrelevant information. The challenge going forward will be ensuring your CTO has the right tools to extract only the data your company needs and to strip out the data it doesn’t.
The Solution: Query your chief marketing officer about the kinds of data that are most important for conversions and sales. Ask him or her to explain your data parameters. Ask questions, such as: If you could communicate with a customer, in real time, at the moment they are deciding between your brand and someone else’s, what would you say to them—and how? Knowing how to answer that question will help prioritize the data your company collects.
3. Don’t get outsmarted. It has never been easier for a few people with an idea to mount a competitive challenge to even the most established business—and in the era of Big Data, size is not necessarily a strength. Big Data can open up cracks and fissures in the marketing landscape that others can easily exploit. Anyone who tries can be a potential competitive threat, if not an existential one.
The Solution: No matter your company size, at least part of your organization must operate as if it is hungry and nimble. Energy needs to go into market research, competitive intelligence, and ear-to-the-Internet scouting. When change is swift and constant, competitive threats can come out of nowhere, in no time, and do a great deal of damage.
4. Mind the internal store. In addition to consumer data, in the next few years, companies will be dealing with larger amounts of internally generated data, particularly from manufacturing facilities. In many organizations, however, information is still siloed in different departments—accounting, engineering, manufacturing, marketing, IT, etc.—preventing sharing of useful information with each other. Companies that figure out how to operate more transparently and collaboratively will have a future competitive advantage.
The Solution: Hire tech staff with data experience that matches your company’s needs. Invest in education and training of data-management personnel. This will pay huge dividends down the road.
5. Listen to the machine. As organizations evolve, there inevitably comes a time when the data suggests that big internal changes need to be made, such as what portfolio strategy should an investment firm adopt, how should store staffing be allocated, what advertisements should be offered up when someone lands on our website. As more and more decisions are dictated by data-driven analytics, one of the hardest things for people to do will be to let go and let the data decide.
The Solution: Listen to what the data is telling you, and try to use it intelligently. Don’t abandon your instincts or intuition—but do use all the information available to inform your gut decision. Otherwise, your gut might betray you.
6. Respond proactively to customers’ instant dissatisfaction. Customers today have, in the palm of their hands, the means to let the world know how unsatisfied they are, and they rather enjoy using that power. And as every marketer knows, one angry customer can cause a lot of damage.
The Solution: Every disgruntled customer can, with the right response, be converted into a brand champion. The same technology that allows customers to register their dissatisfaction quickly also allows companies to address issues and concerns just as fast. The more instantaneous the response, the better for everyone.
Big Data may be the domain of your IT and marketing departments, but it’s critical that CEOs know their company’s data strengths and weaknesses. This knowledge, which is a journey, not a destination, will prove invaluable in leading your team in how to utilize your customer data to the company’s best advantage.