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Joining the data dots

Good businesses all know about the importance of data. But Dr Paul Bracewell of Dot Loves Data 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 data-driven 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.

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LESS TALK, MORE ACTION

DOT LOVES DATA HELPS BUSINESSES BRING THEIR DATA-LED INITIATIVES TO LIFE. HERE’S DR PAUL BRACEWELL’S TOP TIPS.  

1) Widen your horizons and don’t be afraid to bring in third party data. This can give a deeper perspective into customer behaviour, which can add more richness to customer profiles, especially as customers’ circumstances evolve.

2) Ensure alignment with the wider business. Coach analysts on corporate culture and how success is measured within your organisation. If you are using a balanced scorecard, analysts should be able to map their work to that framework. That will also highlight the need to do something with the data. 

3) Be bold. Act. Obviously this comes with a number of caveats. However, one of the rumblings in the market about data-led initiatives is the lack of action. Well-structured models with appropriate data create a framework for action. The art is for a decision maker to link the model drivers with context to shape an initiative.

4) Celebrate success borne from analytical action and create pride of workmanship in the delivery of actionable insights. That can transform an organisation in a cost-effective manner.

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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.

"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. "

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.  

Dr. Paul Bracewell.

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@dotlovesdata.com