Making digital data work for business improvements

Managing the explosion of data is likely to become an increasing challenge that organisations must address to stay competitive, according to Empired.

With 90 percent of the world’s data generated over the past two years(1), the digital data revolution presents businesses with a huge opportunity to gain never-before-seen insights into how customers are interacting with organisations. By leveraging this data appropriately, businesses can drive efficiencies, increase revenue, decrease risk, and stay compliant; all with less effort and expense.

Vast amounts of digital data are available to track and report on interactions customers are having with organisations, including in-store, online, and on social media. Businesses can access information regarding customer loyalty, how customers view their experiences, and understand who their customers are and what they like to buy. All of this information can be linked to previous buying behaviours.

Organisations can then merge and consolidate this data with existing data to get a 360-degree view of the customer so they can identify new opportunities or areas for improvement.

Ben Johnson, national business manager, data insights and integration, Empired, said, “Data can become a burden when businesses don’t know how to best use it to extract key insights. Business leaders can get lost in seas of data, find interesting pieces of information, and answer unasked questions.  But, there’s a difference between answers that are interesting and answers that are valuable.  Unfortunately we see a lot of customers who have invested in solutions that may not be valuable or they don’t know how to measure the value.  Organisations must tie the data to desired business outcomes to achieve sales and operational, financial or strategic goals.”

Internal systems only make up a small percentage of the total data available within an industry or on a broader community level. Businesses must understand how to take the information gained from business insights and connect it to what is happening in the digital ecosystem. Most organisation still treat these areas as separate but augmenting business data with external information will let business leaders gain a real understanding of what is currently happening in the industry and the standing of the organisation within it.

Ben Johnson said, “Before beginning to collect data, businesses must think through what types of insights they would like to gain and how they will measure the value. They need a view on how they’ll know when they have enough data, and the role technology will play in the project. There must be a planned and complimentary approach to connecting information and developing narratives based on that information.

“Data intelligence and digital strategy need to be matched with benefits and measured with appropriate governance. The final strategic stream for business leaders is implementing change management. This is the highest risk to IT capabilities. Users need to engage with the tools and systems regularly and be updated with the correct skills and support to develop visionary conversations.”

Businesses must view the process of using digital data through a transformation lens. Leaders must have the end in mind with a clearly-defined vision about what the business wants to achieve and how to know when this point has been reached.

Once this vision is clear, it must become objective and measurable by time. Measuring throughout the process lets businesses know when the exercise has been successful. Breaking down streams of activity into sub-parts helps leaders keep all parties honest in the transformation journey.

Ben Johnson said, “Unless the investments in data and analytics makes a real difference to customers or achieve operational, financial or strategic goals, any data analysis journey is nothing more than an academic exercise.”


(1) IBM -