By Jan Spence
Many organizations are striving to deliver better product and customer experiences by harnessing data and technology in more advanced ways. Their goal: to respond intelligently to customers’ needs and preferences. Data is often the toughest challenge, based on all the disparate data signals streaming from various channels, platforms and systems. How does one transform all these data signals into actionable intelligence?
This panel — moderated by Ascend Marketing founder, Rich Herbst, and comprised of senior managers in the hospitality, retail and services industries — offered some interesting insights into the following areas:
• Data access and data flow management
• Harnessing data for customer perspective and insights
• Data modeling and machine learning to drive insights
• Data activation to fuel brand action
• Dashboarding your data insights
Sr. Director, CRM & Marketing Analytics at The Container Store
Sr. Manager, Strategy & Solutions at Hilton
Chief Technology Officer at Sertics
Managing Director at Ascend Marketing
Data and technology are revolutionizing the relationship between customers and companies. This brings with it many opportunities for marketing departments, but it also entails risks. The creepy factor and too much transparency start to come to the surface, and customers can stop freely volunteering information. Businesses need to sync up their data, or this could erode confidence with the customer. Koch noted that Hilton gathers information on customers across multiple departments — the front desk, events and loyalty programs to name a few. With all that data, information on kids, vacations, business travel and date preferences has to be kept connected to the department so the customer does not feel like their information is being shared but used appropriately.
Shroff noted that it is super critical to get a 360-degree view of the customer for teams across the organization to be more focused and actionable in product development, marketing, advertising and the customer experience. Data at each stage of the cycle is important, but you don’t have to wait for all the data to respond. Start with what is easy and begin to understand the customer life cycle, and start looking at patterns. Then you can begin looking at what is most important to your customers and where to spend extra time, if they want improved service, faster response, etc.
Kalluru compared the effort of building a 360-degree view of your customers to deep sea fishing. Do you need a net? What type of pole? Which bait? What part of the ocean is best for catching certain fish? Developing a full plan (and one with historical context) helps your organization empathize more clearly with your customer’s viewpoint, which in turn can lead to building new hypotheses around gaps in KPIs or campaign expectations. Herbst, the moderator, noted that “an integrated view enables your team to be more effective marketing technologists — your teams can more easily understand intent and identify potential data collisions or fragmentation across channels.”
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Kalluru noted that data access used to be limited to IT departments, but automation and artificial intelligence enhancements now give managers the ability to retrieve and manipulate data. This is extremely powerful for managers that are wanting to move quickly down the path of activation.
Koch added that quick access to data allows managers to run queries on their own and more quickly concept programs based on customer insights.
Kalluru cleverly summed it up with a familiar quote from Spiderman: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Today’s businesses hold more data than ever before and face more scrutiny with regulations, and with this comes the responsibility related to how information is stored, shared, protected and used.
Dallas and the North Texas area has been strongly emerging as technology hubs in the past few years, and the caliber of panelists and mind share at the conference was a testament to the movement. We’d like to thank all panelists and attendees for a dynamic and well-informed discussion, and Tech Titans for hosting the event.
Moderator Rich Herbst remarked on the emerging and diversifying talent and company pools. “It’s exciting to see this level of energy happening in the market today. I haven’t seen anything like it in my 15 years in the space and I’m encouraged at the intrepid nature of not only today’s leaders, but of our technology workforce.”
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