Good busi­nesses all know about the im­por­tance of data. But Dr Paul Bracewell says there’s too much talk and not enough ac­tion when it comes to turn­ing these data-driven dreams into com­mer­cial real­i­ties.


Many as­pects of our daily life are cap­tured and stored on machines. And, de­spite the fact that the in­tent of those cap­tur­ing the data may not nec­es­sar­ily be known, peo­ple are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly com­fort­able com­pro­mis­ing their dig­i­tal free­doms in re­turn for ac­cess to bet­ter prod­ucts, bet­ter con­tent and bet­ter in­sights. Busi­nesses have long seen the com­mer­cial pos­si­bil­i­ties of this shift, but they need to get much bet­ter at us­ing the data that sur­rounds them if they hope to ben­e­fit.

We’ve all heard ex­ec­u­tives talk about datadriven ap­proaches. But, with­out ac­tion, these pro­grammes of work risk be­ing the equiv­a­lent of the em­peror’s new clothes. So, how do we en­sure the promised ben­e­fits of these ini­tia­tives are re­alised?

The work that Stats NZ does is a great ex­am­ple of us­ing data for good. As it pre­pares for the next cen­sus in 2018, it is lever­ag­ing pub­lic and pri­vate data to get the right mes­sages to the right peo­ple at the right time, in the right place and for the right price. It is us­ing a data-driven ap­proach to de­fine its com­mu­ni­ca­tions strat­egy.

Af­ter iden­ti­fy­ing that a part of the com­mu­nity at risk of not com­plet­ing the cen­sus was heav­ily in­volved in team sport, Stats NZ en­gaged with its ad­ver­tis­ing agency to de­liver a video based around a lo­cal club at the heart of that com­mu­nity that it could test ahead of the next cen­sus. The mes­sage was sim­ple: for the club to be sup­ported by var­i­ous fund­ing bod­ies, their peo­ple needed to be counted. And the way to do it was by com­plet­ing the cen­sus.

Pay­ing dues

To Dot Loves Data, trans­ac­tional data is one of the most ex­cit­ing data sources avail­able. Not only can col­lec­tive pur­chas­ing habits be gleaned, but lo­ca­tion and time can be de­ter­mined. If a cus­tomer can be tagged within this data set, this en­ables cus­tomer be­hav­iour to be mon­i­tored over time.

Crit­i­cally, ob­serv­ing sub­tle shifts in con­sumer be­hav­iour can help cus­tomers at risk of churn, as well as de­ter­mine a change in life stage or any other trig­ger event in a per­son’s life that may re­quire a dif­fer­ent prod­uct or ser­vice to suit their evolv­ing needs.

As the old phrase goes, there ain’t no party like a third party data set. And the abil­ity to

iden­tify an in­di­vid­ual, po­ten­tially through an in­ter­nal data­base, loy­alty pro­gramme or mail­ing list, cre­ates the abil­ity to in­tro­duce third party data sets. The flex­i­bil­ity of these ap­proaches is lim­ited by the match keys in the data; these keys can be in­di­vid­ual-spe­cific like names and emails or more generic like mesh­block or area unit.

From an ac­qui­si­tion per­spec­tive, it is im­por­tant to look be­yond your own or­gan­i­sa­tion’s data. It is of­ten too easy to navel gaze and talk about the valu­able data ac­ces­si­ble within an or­gan­i­sa­tion. How­ever, this doesn’t help get new cus­tomers. And it can ac­tu­ally hin­der re­ten­tion by not un­der­stand­ing the driv­ers of ex­ist­ing cus­tomers in a wider con­text. The use of ex­ter­nal data can help bring cus­tomer seg­ments to life by pro­vid­ing a richer per­spec­tive in a more global con­text.

We get a real kick out of see­ing clients re­alise how they can use their data to drive ac­tion. And we find the real fun comes when you in­clude other data, as this forces an or­gan­i­sa­tion out of its com­fort zone and places it in the con­text of the wider mar­ket.

We are im­mersed in a world of dig­i­tal data bounc­ing around just wait­ing to be farmed for com­mer­cial ben­e­fit. Whether it is trans­ac­tional data from op­er­a­tional sys­tems or third party de­mo­graph­ics, the data and tools ex­ist to cre­ate a richer pic­ture. The real trick is to take all of that in­for­ma­tion and turn that into ac­tion.

Need some help to make your data-driven dreams a re­al­ity? Get in touch hello@dot­loves­

We’ve all heard ex­ec­u­tives talk about data- driven ap­proaches. But, with­out ac­tion, these pro­grammes of work risk be­ing the equiv­a­lent of the em­peror’s new clothes.

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