It is safe to say that 2020 was a pivotal year for many industries. Even a brief glance at the daily news tells stories of hardship from the retail sector, aviation, leisure and recreation, and more. The global response to COVID-19 has necessitated a shift in our collective culture and meant that data and technology is more vital to success than ever before.
Customer expectations are changing. This, in turn, is accelerating the necessity of integrated ecommerce, mobile and brick-and-mortar strategy and omnichannel delivery strategies. To enable this, organisations need to facilitate an internal shift towards a data-driven culture – this is no longer an IT challenge, but business-wide.
Before we look ahead to 2021, we thought it is a good time to look back on some of the most dramatic changes of 2020 and how organisations have responded to unprecedented changes.
Insight 1: Digital Transformation is no longer just a buzz word.
2020 has highlighted just how important digital transformation is to organisations.
We have written a more extensive guide to digital transformation here, but in summary we define digital transformation as: “The business-wide implementation and adoption of technologies and data-driven solutions, designed to improve business processes, deliver better value to customers, and improve organisational results.”
Digital transformation offers organisations many benefits, including:
- Better, more consistent brand interactions for customers (and employees)
- Innovative solutions that identify opportunities and deliver more value to end users and customers to promote brand loyalty
- More efficient, effective business operations
- Improved ability to survive and compete in future
In simple terms, Digital Transformation enables businesses to utilise data and technology to better serve their customers and internal stakeholders. Importantly, technology should support and optimise existing processes, without disrupting your organisation.
Organisations that have adopted technology and data to better implement their customer engagement and business strategies have been in a much stronger position to respond to the volatility of this unprecedented year.
Insight 2: Agility is your organisations biggest strength.
Further to the last insight, 2020’s volatility has placed increased significance on organisational, and data, agility – the ability to react quickly to change. This is not a new phenomenon, but rather feeds into, and accelerates, an existing trend that emphasises the importance of a data-driven culture.
The companies that successfully adapt to changing customer needs have access to up to date information to stay ahead of the game.
This means creating and implementing a full data strategy that emphasises the importance of data accessibility and considers the needs of each internal stakeholder. We recommend a process of:
- Defining your organisation’s needs
- Divide the tasks and responsibilities necessary to your data management process
- Understand the data you currently hold
- Locate your main data sources and document the data they hold
- Manage the flow of data to ensure that everyone who needs this data has access
- Improve the quality of your data (more on this in Insight 3)
- Assess any existing gaps
This may take some time, but by adopting a data-first approach and promoting data literacy, all the way from the Chief Data Officer, to sales and marketing, to customer service, and merchandising, an organisation can become much more agile with the data they have, instead of simply hoping for success.
Insight 3: The Fundamentals are key to success.
The final, but arguably most important, insight from 2020 has been that the fundamentals are critical to success. When we say ‘fundamentals’, we are referring to the basic processes and principles of data management that we find are often overlooked in favour of ‘flashy’ AI or AR initiatives. These will usually fail because the underlying data strategy is not solid, with bad quality data rendering these projects expensive failures.
Bad quality data, ranging from incomplete data sets, ‘dark data’ or duplicated data, undermines everything that a company could attempt to do with that data. Any insights or intelligence gained from bad quality data is more harmful because it impacts the decision-making process.
A common expression we often hear is, ‘don’t run before you can walk’. The same is true when it comes to data.
Good quality data enables organisations to get to know their true customers and serve their needs in a more personalised manner, improving the customer experience, achieving efficiencies across the organisation, and increasing the bottom line in the process. If you want to know more about the benefits of good quality data, read our starter guide here.
If you only take one thing from this article, let it be this. Our advice at Data Clarity to every organisation, from large multinational organisations to small start-ups, is this: ensure high quality data, from collection, to processing, and storage, through to analysis and insight generation.
Case Study: Paul Smith achieves success with customer personalisation, enabled by data.
At Data Clarity, we have been working with retailers, such as Paul Smith, to fully understand their internal systems and to provide the integration tools necessary to create the Golden Record of retailers’ customers. As an example, the iconic and forward-thinking fashion retailer has seen a significant increase in retail revenue in response to recent marketing campaigns compared with previous years by leveraging the power of ClarityOmnivue® and Customers’ Golden Record Management to create personalised customer experiences.
Retailers that are set up with data agility, supported by a data strategy, are able to easily identify, extract, validate and present the necessary customer and business critical data required for personalised customer engagement, operational reporting, business analysis and forecasting, translating these advantages into greater returns despite external compromises like the impact of Covid-19.
Using ClarityOmnivue® to generate personalised campaigns, Paul Smith have achieved an average increase in conversion rates of 40% in like for like marketing activities compared to last year, and despite the Covid-19 situation which demonstrates the power and potential of marketing on relevance and truly understanding online and offline customers’ buying behaviours through data.
Final Thoughts: The World is Always Changing. Data Keeps You Ahead of the Game.
We have looked back at some of the key insights and strategies from an unprecedented year. We have explored some of the key developments that organisations need to be aware of to ensure success in 2021 and beyond.
The key take-away is that, COVID-19 or not, the world is becoming more technology-driven. Customer expectations are shifting towards anticipating data collection, and using that information to provide a better, more personalised service, however they interact with a brand. By embracing digital transformation, becoming more agile, and ensuring a solid foundation through a data strategy, organisations can adapt to change more easily and set themselves up for success.
If you would like to discuss anything raised here, or have any questions about how data can help your organisation, our data experts are on hand to help you. Start a conversation today.