The Power of Data - The Critical Enabler of Faster Decision Making

The world is a drastically different place now compared to a couple of years ago. Businesses have been forced to make bigger decisions than ever before while moving quicker and more frequently. In retail, being at the forefront of having to adapt to changing customer behaviour and interactions, there is no time more critical than now to make better and faster decisions.

We invited a group of data science managers, marketing and engineering directors, and chief data scientists to discuss their experiences with data’s role in evolving decision making and:

  • Modern challenges for business decision making
  • Tracking consumer data and behaviours
  • The value of data for decision making
  • Building data confidence with customer loyalty

Rela8 Group’s Technology Leaders Club roundtables are held under the Chatham House Rule. Names, organisations and some anecdotes have been withheld to protect privacy.

About Treasure Data

The Treasure Data enterprise customer data platform drives relevant customer experiences by harmonising data, insights, and engagement to work in perfect unison. With its ability to create a true view of the customers and prospects, Treasure Data allows enterprises to not only know who is ready to buy, but what, when and how to drive them to convert in real-time.

Starting at square one

It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic turned the world as we know it upside down. What might come as a surprise is that the understandable shift to consumer habits brought on by COVID have persisted and continue to develop in unpredictable ways. Modern businesses are now struggling to keep up and make critical business decisions without all the previous knowledge and experience they had. Business' approach to consumer data needs overhauling but starting from square one is a daunting prospect when you’re already falling behind.

Throwing out the rule book

Pre-pandemic, businesses had a relatively stable grasp on consumer behaviours. Business decisions were made based on pre-established patterns and experiences. Post-pandemic however, this understanding serves as little more than a distraction. The older businesses that relied heavily on experience and intuition were now being hampered by it as it slowed down their shift to a more relevant data-driven model.

Even for businesses that did move to being more data-driven, the question remained – what do we do with this data? Businesses were finding that even with new data streams, they weren’t able to quickly refine them into actionable insights before the next big shift in consumer behaviour. With little relevant experience handling a situation so complicated and volatile, businesses were “freezing” – waiting until they could get a clearer picture before making decisions.

With no rule book for handling the new normal, the biggest challenge for data scientists is shortening decision cycle latency and enabling their companies to act quickly with confidence. Some businesses shifted from monthly planning meetings to daily ones, others dove into their data to try and make as much sense of it as possible by segmenting and analysing whatever they could. But with the vast majority of consumers changing their habits since the pandemic, can businesses ever hope to keep up?

Predicting the unpredictable

The “dash to digital” is to businesses what the big bang was to the universe – everything changed. Trying to predict what consumers would do became impossible as they now had more choice than ever alongside myriad factors to influence them. A great example is milk. Coffee shops had closed, and suppliers might have had good reason to think that milk consumption would drop as result. Quite the opposite. People at home were forced to entertain themselves and their families and one of the ways this manifested was the boom in home baking. Out of nowhere there was a huge demand for milk and other baking ingredients and businesses couldn’t keep up with demand.

No amount of data could have predicted this behaviour. It became clear that simply tracking consumer habits was no longer the best solution, but rather businesses should be emphasising agility as well.

Refining black gold

Reducing decision cycle latency and in turn being more agile can be enabled with a customer data platform. By simplifying the data collected, CDPs can help businesses turn their black gold, their raw unrefined data, into gold insights. In turn, by generating these insights, a CDP can allow businesses to be faster and more data-led when it comes to making business critical decisions.

The sheer amount of data available to businesses today is as much a curse as it is a blessing – if you’re looking for a needle in a haystack, you don’t add more hay. By identifying and filtering out less relevant data, a CDP can provide clear and actionable insight. Once a CDP finds its way into the hands of the whole business, the usage cases and value it can provide only go up so long as everyone is working from the same cross-business KPIs.

It is important to remember that CDPs are not data stores. Don’t put all your data into a CDP and hope it can churn through it to provide something usable. When efficiently implementing a CDP, data teams need to work closely with the users of the data to be more conscious and deliberate.

The Goldilocks zone

For all the agility and data in the world, one thing still holds true – customer loyalty. The question driving every business today should be “what does the consumer get out of this and how do we service them?” Consumers have more choice than ever and hold all power. The value proposition has changed from “I will give you my time and money in exchange for goods and services”, to “I will give you my time, money and data in exchange for a better experience”. Staying in the “Goldilocks zone” by delivering this and fostering consumer loyalty means even the occasional misstep can be forgiven, giving your business more room to make business decisions.

Don’t be afraid to mess up

With a new business landscape on the horizon, everyone is charting their own course through unknown waters. By efficiently utilising a CDP and clearing out the irrelevant data noise, businesses can take strides towards being more agile and data-driven. As we move forward, one thing is certain – we can’t let a fear of messing up prevent us from making decisions. Gone are the days when heads must roll for bad business decisions. Now we must start taking chances and accept that even if we fail, we still got some useful data.

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