In the big data scenario, how to effectively marry physical and online data


Fundamentally, big data is not about data, but it is actually about adding value.

We have been talking about big data for a while now. It primarily refers to legacy and new systems that collect a lot of data about customer, transactions and processes alike. But let us be real – the ability to sift through troves of data in a meaningful way doesn’t happen in most organisations.

The problem with big data is the starting point: what questions will help the business? Fundamentally, big data is not about data, but it is actually about adding value.

“What products can I bundle together that customers usually buy?”

“How much discount liquidated the maximum amount of old inventory?” “What type of customer normally buys a specific product?” These questions are not only looking to add value from the business but also benefit the business. The data is normally available, but only the right questions offer the right insights.

We have come a long way in marketing, even just in the last decade. Today there is an immense amount of data collection taking place online. Online there are a lot of analytics and automation tools that collect information.

There is some basic data collection taking place offline. Offline technology such as point of sale data or a range of device recognition technology can help collect information. But bringing them together is the smaller part of the problem. The bigger challenge is what to do with this data and what are the right questions to ask to ensure we provide value to the customers.

The two primary pieces tying together online and offline marketing data today are single customer view and marketing automation.

Single customer view (SCV) is effectively the idea of having one understanding of a customer from an organization’s perspective.

That includes:

     when did they transact,

     what did they purchase,

     when and where did we see them and

     how was their experience with us across multiple channels

Tying this data together online and offline is now possible through simple mechanisms like a good customer relationship management (CRM) system. The main objective of tying it together, assuming our customer experience process is good, is that we can offer better service understanding the whole background of a customer.

Taking the idea of an SCV further, there is technology available today that can enhance a customer’s experience. The relationship between the organisation and the customer can be a lot more one-to-one as opposed to one-to-many. This can be achieved through marketing automation.

The automation primarily takes place based on rules. The simplest, and well known, the rule is if a customer’s email ID is known and they abandon a shopping cart on an ecommerce website, we send them a reminder or offer a discount on the products they were going to buy. But this journey can be made to be a lot more sophisticated and personalised.

Based on a user’s behaviour with a brand, online and offline, we can automate certain tasks, make the emails to them a lot more personalised and even create wow opportunities and moments for the customer with the brand.

The power in the aforementioned tools is limited to creating rules and executing them. But what rules to create is the harder question. If an organisation in today’s noise wants to stand out – the questions they ask have to add value to the customer. The organization has to give value to the customer without expecting anything in return. This is the only way to build trust and confidence with an individual, in an environment where every organization is coming at you with sales alerts and offers.

A big consideration for this exercise has to keep in mind a customer’s privacy needs. Given the incessant data, collection customers are becoming more aware of where their information sits and how.

As an organisation, we have to take into account how we use the data and do it such that it respects the user’s privacy. That also means not keeping or using information that is not relevant for us for the sake of keeping it.

Although I’ve said marketing technology has come a long way, we are in the early stages of how we tie our customer experience wisely, online and offline. It is an exciting time and I believe we will get better and building a one-to-one relationship between organisations and customers.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)


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