The ongoing pandemic and now sluggish economy are creating new challenges for all businesses, including online and cloud-based organizations. With 75% of all people shopping online every month, it is more critical than ever to focus on and improve each and every experience to retain and grow your customer base. And increasingly, evidence suggests that a primary driver for both is a company’s relative data maturity.
Despite this most companies fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum of data maturity - meaning how well a company uses data and leverages it in its decision making - with a relative few having the trifecta of foundation, resources and support to be fully data-driven and thus data mature.
However, knowledge is a large first step towards data maturity, and assessing where you are in terms of these areas is a good start on the road to becoming data mature.
Questions you should be asking include: Do I understand the customer journey? Do I have a data driven culture? Am I organized for insight? And do I have the right tools? The first of these questions, the customer journey, is especially crucial right now.
The digital customer journey
No matter what the industry, product, or service, your customer’s journey happens increasingly online. In fact, 63% of shopping journeys start there. In most cases, a customer will discover, buy, seek after-sales support, and facilitate returns all through your online presence. Unfortunately, a great deal of money is spent fruitlessly because decisions are based on assumptions and guesses, not data.
Instead, companies should embrace data and use it to inform decisions. While it’s important to collect all the needed customer data, it’s equally essential to analyze it, act on it, and test the myriad of approaches to improve your digital products. Yet, we don’t all have access to the needed data to really get the job done. Put simply, we can’t understand what we aren’t tracking. Because you can’t know your customer’s actions ahead of time, many companies are only receiving after-the-fact insight instead of identifying and acting on the known and unknown problems, such as where customers are experiencing friction and frustration as well as identifying the features that accelerate their journey.
Companies more advanced in data maturity establish baselines, processes and lean into a world of anticipating customer actions, which is key to thriving in this post-pandemic world.
When it comes to leveraging customer data, not every business extracts the same level of value from it. And, getting it right is hard. Data maturity refers to how well you utilize the data and how quickly you can derive insights from it to make informed decisions to improve the customer journey. So, how do you start?
Organized for insight
Part of assessing your data maturity is determining if you have a data driven culture. A data driven culture prioritizes data accessibility across the organization, automates key processes, and is experiment-driven with key performance indicators (KPIs) that move the business, ensuring that it is on the same page. There is an element of speaking the same 'language' of the same facts - it levels everyone. They also incentivize and reward team members for making decisions based on data.
A data driven culture is also equipped with the right tools that can be easily used by the teams that need them, organized in a way that is built for speed and leads to business agility. Data is readily available and transparent across the organization, so decisions aren’t made by 'gut feel' and pre-judgments are rigorously challenged and must be proven by data. This allows teams to move quicker, learn faster and see immediate results because you have alignment that there is no emotion about, it is based on purely the data.
Better insight via better tools
Of course, it helps to have a fully loaded toolbox. Having the right tools is essential for companies who wish to become more data driven. The good news is cloud-based data analytics’ products are readily available and are transforming online businesses. Yet not all solutions are created equal. To capture each step a customer takes on your website, teams must look for a product that collects all of the valuable data to ensure they aren’t missing vital information, and uses data science to locate the hidden opportunities that have the greatest potential for impact. If you think otherwise, you don’t know the cost of what you’re missing.
In addition, the solution should enable full brain thinking with quantitative and qualitative data so you can identify what’s driving the behavior behind the clicks. It should also provide visualization tools to empower anyone on the team with actionable insights so they can make the biggest impact on the digital experience — no engineers or analysts required. This allows the data to be more accessible and actionable across all teams without the need to have data be interpreted by those engineers or analysts. All of this translates to goodness - speed to insight, action and iteration.
And lastly and perhaps most importantly, data mature companies employ agile development methodologies that allow them quickly to create, test, and assess new features and services to accelerate their innovation cycles. Speed at scale wins. Automation should be doing some of the heavy lifting here - if you’re bringing in more data than ever before, you need to ensure that your team members aren’t overwhelmed by it. The answers to your business questions are in the data. Why wouldn’t you tap into it? To that end, you need tools that can be used across the organization so each team member (and not just the data experts) can contribute and reap the most benefits from the data they’re exploring.
Data maturity linked to success
Companies that are more data driven, data aware and data mature are making moves backed by stats and insight which is translating into better business outcomes, including retaining and attracting new customers and increasing the lifetime customer value, revenue, and profits. Data maturity is a journey - no one gets it right off the bat, but you must dedicate time to developing your data maturity. Truth is data-based decision making outperforms opinions based on gut reaction, which often leaves companies with a lingering stomachache. Your best moves are informed by data and improved by your company’s relative data maturity. You and your business have everything to gain – or lose. The choice is yours.
- The topics above will be explored in more depth in a new study by IDC, commissioned by Heap, entitled How Data Maturity and Product Analytics Improve Digital Experiences and Business Outcomes, which will be published next week.