From Input to Asset: reframing Data for better business outcomes

  • Date 6th April 2022
  • Author Caspar Yuill
From Input to Asset: reframing Data for better business outcomes

Ask someone what a company’s most important asset is and the list will usually start with your people, followed by your product or your brand (depending on who you’re talking to). Data rarely, if ever, rates a mention in the top 3. 

Recently, I completed a certification in Data Engineering with Google, which covered how to ingest, store, process, and visualise data for optimal business value. This, alongside much of the work I’ve been focused on at AFFINITY with our clients over the past 18 months, really got me thinking about the value of a company’s data, and its position on the ‘hierarchy’ of company assets. 

And here’s the reality. Unless you’re a tech company that was built on data, you’re probably not treating your data with the respect and importance it deserves. Sure, we’ve been talking about how important data is since forever, but as this Arktic Fox study shows, Australian marketers are struggling with it. (And if you need an example to illustrate this – seeing critical business processes being conducted in Excel spreadsheets on personal laptops is something I’ve witnessed far too often for it to be an isolated incident …)  

As the Arktic Fox study stated, Australian marketers are in danger of losing control of the Data and CX side of their organisations if they don’t come to grips with it. Fast. And treating it like an asset, rather than an input, should be a priority for all brands.  

Ultimately, there are huge benefits for marketers who spend the time strategically building their data as an asset. Here are a few examples. 

Intel for segmentation and marketing responsiveness 
AFFINITY has been using data-enhanced segmentation to improve MarComm effectiveness for one of our clients, and has already seen a 30% boost in responsiveness. 

New features for product development 
The importance of data-driven recommendation algorithms to streaming services like Netflix or Spotify has skyrocketed in recent years (and explains why we all hate it when someone else in the household watches a show like the Kardashians on your account). 

Ability to monetise the data itself 
On-demand grocery start-up Voly have placed data at the heart of their operations to forecast products and optimise fulfillment.  

So where do you start? Following are AFFINITY’s three key steps to building data as an asset. 

Accessibility 
If you saw an earlier AFFINITY post about Customer Data Platforms, you’ll know one of the major challenges many organisations face is around disparate data sources all existing in their own isolated silos (like someone’s laptop). 

Assisting with data literacy and establishing a data-driven culture starts with ensuring the right data is accessible by the people who need to understand or respond to it. You obviously shouldn’t open up anything sensitive for widespread access, however sharing critical metrics across the organisation such as marketing channel data, core product data, and broad segmentation provides a good base level. Or follow the rule of thumb proposed in this Harvard Business Review article: whatever metrics are on the C-Suite agenda should be shared.

Meanwhile for the specific members of your team who need it, it’s critical to ensure that data is centrally stored in a single data lake (raw) or data warehouse (refined) for easy access and analysis. 
 
Enrichment 
In many instances, the data itself is only part of the picture. It’s not until you pair it with something else that the insights start to crystallise. So, consider what opportunities there are to enrich your data. You might be surprised by the amount of free or cheap data sources out there which you can use to augment your own data.  

For an automotive services company with limited transactional data, we’re currently exploring appending customer registration data with car make and model to provide a far richer platform for relevant messaging and triggered communications. 

If you only have a customer address, is there value in appending socio-economic data from the ABS. Or if you have transactional data, can you look to third-party data, such as weather data, to help you identify seasonal trends? Quite often, the costs of storing and integrating this additional data will be far outweighed by the value you get from it.  

Ownable 
Marketers have been obsessed with the importance of identifying a brand’s USP for decades. But in an age of increasing product commoditisation, there’s arguably an easier source of differentiation hiding in plain sight. Proprietary data – data that is unique your company – might be one of the most under-rated and overlooked pieces of a company’s data strategy. As this article explains, we’re not talking about trade secrets, but rather data that’s unique to your organisation either in its raw form, or through some degree of refinement.  

Consider what unique data sources you have access to – behaviour patterns of customers, usage patterns of products are excellent places to start looking. And used wisely, can be the key to creating a truly sustainable competitive advantage. Just ask UBS, who started using satellite imagery to help them outperform other hedge funds.    
 
Not sure where to start with your data? We’ve been working with many of our clients on everything from solutions for data storage to translating data into actionable insights, and we’d love to talk to you about your data needs. Reach out via luke@affinity.ad  

Better input always leads to greater outcomes

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