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The customer behind the data

A selection of Experian experts give their views on all things marketing and big data. From data strategy to sophisticated segmentation. Follow them on @ExperianMkt_UK

Dealing with the deluge: how organisations are humanising their data strategy

As consumer expectations continue to increase in our highly connected society, organisations strive to better understand the role of data, how it impacts the customer and how it can be used to better transform relationships and revenues. These businesses are more aware than ever of the revenue boosting potential of data and this is demonstrated in the results of our latest global research project.

The research shows that almost four in every five organisations (79 per cent) expect that the majority of their sales decisions will be driven by customer data by 2020. Add to this the finding that 84 per cent see data as an integral part of forming a business strategy and it’s pretty clear that the way businesses perceive the value of data is maturing rapidly. Those who take a more proactive approach to data management will achieve greater insights into their customers, enabling them to provide a greater quality of service to each individual.

However, the research also revealed that very few have even the basics in place to manage, protect and extract value from their data. 90 per cent of businesses still feel they are missing a sophisticated approach to managing and analysing data effectively. Organisations reported that on average almost a quarter of customer data is inaccurate. The most common errors include incomplete or missing data, out-dated information, duplicates and inconsistencies. Respondents estimate that they could grow sales by almost a third (29 per cent) if customer data was completely accurate.

While the explosion of digital data represents a significant opportunity for businesses, the ability to put this into practice is a real area for improvement. More than three-quarters (76 per cent) believe inaccurate data is undermining their ability to provide an excellent customer experience. Only 14 per cent believe they have a sophisticated approach to data quality management, and for the UK this was only 10 per cent, down from 26 per cent in last year’s research.

This shortfall may be due in part to the rise in the perception of what constitutes a sophisticated data management approach. When asked where businesses felt they were in terms of this, the majority rated themselves poorly. Whilst on the surface this indicates a decline in data maturity, it’s also an indication that the complexity to reach a sophisticated approach is better recognised and understood today. This is positive for both businesses and consumers if it drives effective action.

With these increasing volumes of data to manage, businesses are adopting new processes and creating new attitudes to ensure it becomes as a strategic asset. 82 per cent said they are actively looking to employ ‘data-centric’ roles as part of their data management strategy. This is leading to an increase in the appointment of ‘data champions’ who are entering organisations at the board level and have the skill-set to drive change from the top, ensuring that the data strategy aligns with the business objectives.

According to the survey, 31 per cent of organisations now manage data centrally through a single director, and of those who don’t, a quarter are currently looking for a chief data officer to support their data management strategy. This indicates that not only are businesses seeing the value of data but they are also actively investing in human resources to support and translate this value, ultimately empowering them to better understand their customers.

The latest report also shows that 97 per cent of organisations are looking to achieve a single view of their customers, in order to improve their ability to reach, serve and retain them. In order for them to accomplish this, they are going to have to adopt a more proactive approach to data management. By putting a face to the vast amount of data available to them, businesses get to know customers as individuals; making sure they are being offered tailored experiences which are relevant to them.

Whilst the report highlights there is still a way to go for the majority in terms of improving data quality, the right steps are in place and changes are already happening. The recognition of the importance of data and benefits of putting it centre stage of a business strategy is clear. By driving internal change and putting new processes and technologies into practice, businesses are setting themselves up to strive in a digital world.

Boris Huard is UK&I managing director of Experian Data Quality