Over the past few weeks I’ve heard many recipes for what will drive business success and yet firms large and small continue to struggle with how to jumpstart growth. Brilliant speakers at the Brandworks Conference (run by Lindsey, Stone and Briggs) in May and at the Cloud Computing and Big Data Expo and the World Innovation Forum (WIFNY) both in New York last week provided insights that must translate into action for companies looking for major growth or simply trying to do better.
Some of the most thought provoking ideas came at WIFNY including comments from Ankur Jain, founder and chair of the Kairos Society. He and a few of his colleagues lead a set of student-run businesses that work on the next innovation waves and those we can barely imagine yet. As big data, cloud and mobility ramp up, Mr Jain says “out of the box and into the next box thinking is required”. More on Mr Jain and his Kairos colleagues in future posts.
Rather than be blindsided by new trends, the following are four actionable insights on what we must exploit to grow.
- The rise of easy access to cheap analytic tools will require you to rethinking your business model.Miniaturization and commoditization of technology will enable you to redesign how, where and how often you capture customer data. You have a choice in this and are not the victim of what data others tell you is available.
A clear example is in healthcare with Remote Personal Health Monitoring where dozens of new products can enable your doctor to monitor you from afar. Your diagnosis and level of care goes up with thousands of your data points being considered daily via miniature blood glucose meters or wireless cardiovascular monitoring and other devices all connected to your smartphone. Rather than seeing you every few weeks, your doctor can use analytics for a granular view of what’s best for you and costs go down from the efficiency.Similar examples abound in nearly every industry. How would you redesign your customer interaction if data collection could be put exactly where and when you want it? What could your business do with cheap, powerful processing like the Raspberry Pi available nearly anywhere you choose?
- Marketing is transforming from control to collaboration.Simply pushing a message out via traditional print, radio, TV or even internet advertising is fading. There is a growing effectiveness in multi-channel marketing which maps to buying behavior (start comparison shopping on-line on your PC, visit the brick and mortar store with your on-line device making you smarter in real time and then finish the transaction at home on your tablet); social media interactions (seeking peer feedback on products); and precision marketing (i.e. location based awareness of the mobile shopper in your store who can be targeted for a promotion in real time).
This is all possible through Big Data driven predictive analytics targeting individual promotions to a market of one. According to PEW Research, 78% of US adults in households with annual incomes of $75,000 and over own smartphones (see Smartphone Ownership 2013). PEW also tells us that 74% of US smartphone owners use location-based services, and 18% “check in” to locations from a May 2012 study. Loyalty360 tells us that 47% of mobile consumers want retailers to send coupons to their devices when they are in or near the store and according to Yankee Group simply adding location-targeted promotions to a loyalty program can drive incremental revenue by more than 4%. So, are you taking advantage of the new shopping model to grow your business?
- Evolution from “ask” to “listen” market research.It is no longer possible to SHOUT at consumers since they now expect a two way dialog. Focus groups or phone surveys provide directional views on customer reaction but they lack the predictive insight of quantitative approaches.
Focus groups are yielding to the active listening results that come from harvesting millions of on-line customer driven interactions, processing and correlating that data via algorithms which feed computer visualization to clarify what consumers truly want. Are you investing in the best algorithm? More importantly, are you hiring or developing the skills that triangulate your company’s brand value with the consumer behavior information and the tools to interpret it in order to deliver what a customer really wants?
- Your product is your research moving forward.The business cycle continues to speed up and economic innovation requires companies to keep pace through reinvention, ruthlessly shutting down poor-performing assets and quickly elevating your new offerings that gain early traction.
Joan Schneider and Julie Hall in an excellent HBR piece tell us that 75% of consumer packaged goods and retail products fail to earn even $7.5 million during their first year. Jack Trout in “Differentiate or Die” tells us that 85% of US household needs are addressed by repeat buys of 150 items. So, how do you break in and capture share? Market leaders will use data analysis to conduct controlled experiments which will drive narrower segmentation and tailored offerings. The key is to have just-in-time capabilities to ramp production of winners. This means for critical success a business must use essential information derived from Big Data tools to identify winners and have product development/delivery alignment with marketing’s insights to execute in real-time. Are you prepared to practice creative destruction?
Finally, embed mobility in everything you do. The confusion about mobility and what to do about it is absurd. Phone systems were first deployed to businesses or homes and society accepted that model as the norm. However, no one ever had a goal of calling a building. We always wanted direct access to individuals so the mobility model is actually more like what Antonio Meucci, Johann Philipp Reis, Alexander Graham Bell and others initially had in mind. Technology is just now catching up to a 150 year old vision. It is time for the rest of our systems … and our thinking … to catch up so let’s not be surprised that we need to transform 1980′s capabilities and business processes for the 21st century.
Essential Information is the fulcrum for all of this. Big Data often now accessed in the Cloud enables speed to market and transparency with your customers. This digital disruption must be embraced or your customers will go elsewhere and you’ll be challenged when competing for new ones.
Paul Magnone is the co-author of “Drinking from the Fire Hose: Making Smarter Decisions Without Drowning in Information” (Portfolio/Penguin, September 2011) and is @paulmagnone