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How Data Gets Democratised

Lisa Halim, General Manager, Microsoft Dynamics APAC | Jan. 9, 2017
The gold mine of customer data has always been an asset closely guarded by marketing departments. This meant that every other employee who wanted to learn more about their customers needed to go through a long and complicated process to lay their hands on the data they required.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

The gold mine of customer data has always been an asset closely guarded by marketing departments. This meant that every other employee who wanted to learn more about their customers needed to go through a long and complicated process to lay their hands on the data they required.

But imagine if everyone in an organisation had their finger on the customer pulse. Imagine if everyone could sense customers' ever-changing behaviour and expectations. Imagine all of us being receptive to new ideas, services and products, throughout the supply chain. We would all be a lot more agile in driving transformation.

We are not far from this imminent reality as the giant pieces of the 'customer awareness' jigsaw are starting to finally fall into place.

First, there's information and data. The thing about big data is that it's not just one Big Thing. The change that big data brings to businesses is the ability for data to flow quickly from multiple sources to multiple destinations, with some smart analysis along the way. In a retail scenario, data from point-of-sale transactions today can be captured by buyers and retailers instantaneously. As a result, retailers can push promotions in real time to their customers, rather than planning for seasonal promotions based on historical buying trends.

Second, it is about how we work with that data. With the support of cloud technologies, data and information is now available from any device, whenever we want. I recently saw a Forrester report that said 56 percent of us send emails before we get to work, and 73 percent of us after we leave. With so much information accessible from the cloud, we can already work from anywhere, anytime.

Everyone can become a marketer in a cloud-first world

What this all adds up to is companies starting to work in very different ways. Let's take a simplified marketing-led scenario. Periodically, department heads sit around a table, review sales data, draw conclusions, set targets and amend strategy. Change happens by organised consensus, followed by monitoring and review.

In short, companies' response to customer behaviour is a process

But if every employee has the pulse of their customers, decisions can be made instinctively and almost spontaneously. Employees responsible for product development, service delivery, operations, and input procurement - all these employees will be instinctively customer-aware. Cloud and data analytics will enable everyone to see what is working, where it is working, and all in real time.

The result is organisations responding naturally to customer behaviour and preferences. Everyone is engaging with customers proactively, and not after deliberation. Processes give way to habit which is made possible with real-time data and analytics. Marketers become enablers, as colleagues from one end of the supply chain to another constantly attune themselves to what the customer likes.

 

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