Scaling data for business success
A famous marketer once said, “I know that half of my advertising is working, it’s just that I don’t know which half”. For many years this lack of accountability and evidence made much of mainstream advertising something of a dark art, possible only to judge through awareness studies and the opaque nature of changing sales figures which could be down to many influences, not just the advertising.
Direct marketing was a different story – accountable, measurable and open to testing – and, often, based on data that the marketer in question already held about the people who would be receiving their marketing comms.
Fast forward to today when the marketing landscape is a very different entity indeed. The power of traditional above-the-line advertising is not what it was as clients have redirected huge amounts of their budgets into online channels. Cheaper than buying slots in Coronation Street, with comms that are quick and relatively easy to produce and generating results that can instantly be added to the data bank that drives most businesses forward today. It’s no wonder that it is a trend that’s here to stay.
In fact, no-one really needs to be reminded that data is a big thing today, and one that is doing more than virtually anything else to drive businesses forward.
This is yet another way, amongst many others, that the internet has moved the world forward with a quantum leap. Virtually every interaction creates another piece of data about the person who has made it. This might be the way that they browse a website, their buying choices, even their preferred delivery method and whether they are prepared to pay a premium to receive their order the next day.
With the inevitable arrival of the Internet of Things when even web-connected fridges could conceivably soon be adding to the data bank about purchasing behaviour, the deluge of information is set to become an avalanche.
But, despite this wealth of information being available, it’s not going to be very useful unless it’s handled properly. If it is, however, the benefits will be huge for a business, in a number of ways.
Obviously, the more that a business knows about its customers, their preferences and their habits, the greater the opportunities for personalising the service and attention that they receive will be. Used well, this is a tremendously powerful way to build business and grow customer loyalty whether it’s being able to offer the products and services that will be the most wanted ones or simply being able to start a customer email with their name, rather than just “Dear Customer”.
Alongside maximising personalisation, the clever use of data also plays a major role in increasing opportunities for a business. This can take a wide number of forms from being able to bundle products together to having a clearer picture of a typical customer’s journey on the road to purchase. In the case of the latter, it can also bring out the most critical moments on the journey to ensure that no derailment occurs.
It’s been estimated that taking simple steps driven by customer data and insight can increase a business’s gross margin by 25% and even lead to a sales growth of over 80%.
While it’s easy to focus on the role which data can play in increasing sales, there are numerous internal differences that it can make to a business which will help, either directly or indirectly, to have a major effect on the bottom line.
The first of these is in the area of productivity. This can take the form of increasing efficiency and boosting output.
Analysis from business efficiency experts McKinsey has noted that proper data integration can “cut down on search times and help analysts, auditors and others spend less time tracking down information and more time applying the results. Professionals can run the numbers on much bigger sets of data, do better vetting and do it all faster”.
As well as making it easier to streamline internal processes and enhancing efficiency, the prudent use of data also allows business to identify and even anticipate where bottlenecks and other delays in the system might occur. This can be either through processing existing information or by using it to create a model of what the future may hold.
So, given that data is something that can drive business growth and even transformation, the question is how to scale it to be used to its full potential. As with many aspects of business, it is to do with effective organisation. In the case of data, this means building in the right kind of hierarchy in order to make it findable, useable and, most importantly, useful.
Described in the most basic terms, a hierarchical database is one in which data is stored as records and organized into a tree-like structure with branches leading off it, or a so-called parent-child structure, in which one parent level of data can have many child nodes connected with it through links.
In a hierarchical database structure a parent record can have several child records, but each one of these can only have one parent record. Data within these records is stored in the form of fields, and each field should only contain one value if the database is to be truly useable and needs the user to work through the whole structure to exploit the data that it contains.
There are also a number of different methods to be used which can used to get different data sets to work together including the Laravel, one which is used for a number of our clients.
But, just as every business is different, every data requirement is too. This is why we believe that the secret of success lies in building bespoke systems for our clients instead of choosing ones “off the shelf”. Because, just as the best use of data can create a genuinely personal output for customers and staff alike, the use of a bespoke system will fit the precise needs of your business itself.
If you would like to talk to us about how to harness your data from greater business success, and to scale up as you grow, contact us today.