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Big data may be the ultimate customer experience tool

For a long time we’ve been having conversations about big data. The digital space has witnessed tens of thousands of talks, some refuting the relevance of big data, calling it the next big hype, while others venerate it as the demigod of the digital world. But last year‘s “Big Data Executive Study” made it official: Big data is mainstream and demands “serious attention.” The report shows how organizations have bolstered their big data spending in a bid to gain better insights into trends, and to aid in the ability to make quick and informed decisions.

It’s not hard to see that we have reached the point where we need to start figuring out what to do with the massive amounts of data that are being generated at a rapid pace. It’s not the time to dissect the why’s and when’s, rather it’s all about diving in and doing something.

I think we are a privileged breed of marketers today, with so much customer intelligence at our fingertips in the form of data excess. There is so much unstructured information across the Web, social channels, and not to mention, our own database contents. To make the most of all this data, most businesses need to narrow down their early data projects and start focusing on how they can use the incoming data to create a better customer experience.

We know that big data gives us all of the information that we need, but we hesitate, perhaps, because the information is overwhelming. Many companies focus a little bit of their attention across the board when it comes to analyzing big data. For that reason, they fall short when it comes to best utilizing the data to make an impact.

How big data can improve the customer experience

When it comes to big data, businesses could be best served by choosing one or two ways to use data and focusing efforts to go deep in that area. Take a look at this list, and decide which tactic could help you create a better customer journey:

We can listen to what’s going on. Better customer experience feeds off of our knowledge of customer behavior, and also their preferences. The more real-time information we have about what customers are thinking and what they are talking about, the better we are able to cater to meet their needs. Big data opens the windows to give us an in-depth view of the customer’s mind and where trends may bend toward in the future. Not only this, big data holds precious clues to what our competitors are doing and what’s working for them. The social buzz, the blogs, the ever-increasing pile of user-generated content – all of it keeps us aware and on our toes.

Better listening translates into better engagement. Once we have the right data and metrics at our fingertips, we can interact with and engage those prospects that are most relevant, most likely to buy, and most likely to wield the greatest market influence.

We can improve our strategies. Learning from the data that we receive and analyzing it, we can improve our offerings for our customers. Collecting insights from diverse data streams helps us identify patterns in our customer engagement strategies as well as those of our competitors. We can see what worked and what didn’t. Understanding these patterns helps us eliminate failures and improve on those experiences that have shown positive results.

We can evolve. Digital transformation is fast-moving, and companies are fervently trying to come up with new and better offerings. Data allows us to see trends that our customers may or may not be aware of and can give us an edge that will make a huge impact. The ability to see beyond the horizon sets great companies apart from everyone else.

I can think of two former giants that committed the fallacy of failing to evolve – Kodak and Blockbuster. While Kodak missed the boat on the evolution to digital photography and the resulting consumer interest in it, Blockbuster was too slow in seeing what was coming next. Blockbuster couldn’t keep up with the changing demands of the movie-watching crowd. And now Netflix, which read the trends correctly, is enjoying 39 million streaming subscribers in the U.S. alone and 57 million worldwide.

You can always re-evaluate your focus down the road, but for now, choosing one area where big data can help you achieve the customer experience that you hope to build is much smarter than getting lost in the sea of data. The future belongs to those who are willing to listen, identify, understand, and prepare. In my opinion, big data is the big key to unlocking everything that the future holds for today’s businesses.

What key insights did you gain from big data? And how has it helped you create the ultimate customer journey?

This post was written as part of the Dell Insight Partners program, which provides news and analysis about the evolving world of tech. To learn more about tech news and analysis visit TechPageOne. Dell sponsored this article, but the opinions are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dell’s positions or strategies.

Image: Creative Commons

Daniel Newman

After 12 years of running technology companies including a CEO appointment at the age of 28, I traded the corner office for a chance to drive the discussion on how the digital economy is going to forever change how business is done. I'm an MBA, adjunct business professor and 5x author of best-selling business books including "The Millennial CEO" and "The New Rules of Customer Engagement." Pianist, soccer fan, husband and father, not in that order. Oh and for work...I'm the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group and President of V3 Broadsuite, a family of marketing and media agencies that help companies be found, seen and heard in a cluttered digital world. I also give keynote speeches around the world on the topics such as digital transformation, technology and marketing.
  • DataH

    Daniel, very interesting article. Many uses of big data have a measurable positive impact on outcomes and productivity. Areas such as record linkage, graph analytics deep learning and machine learning have demonstrated being critical to help fight crime, reduce fraud, waste and abuse in the tax and healthcare systems, combat identity theft and fraud, and many other aspects that help society as a whole. It is worth mentioning the HPCC Systems open source offering which provides a single platform that is easy to install, manage and code. Their built-in analytics libraries for Machine Learning and integration tools with Pentaho for great BI capabilities make it easy for users to analyze Big Data. Their free online introductory courses allow for students, academia and other developers to quickly get started. For more info visit: http://hpccsystems.com/