If subsequent years have been about the power of “big data”, 2018 has been the year where “small data” stepped up and found its rightful seat in the enterprise boardroom. Literally, most of the companies with 2023 plans have established “Improving customer journey” as a focal strategic imperative. This used to be a nice bullet point on a chart that was presented to the boards and at town halls, however, 2018 has brought the change towards leveraging data to optimize brand, product, and human experience, to the forefront.
In a year filled with conversations around how and why we use data, it’s become clear that the need to leverage a variety of data to unveil Customer Truth™ is more important than ever before. Q4’s $8BN SAP / Qualtrics deal and SurveyMonkey’s (SVMK) strong first earnings report (+18%) provided the financial proof-points of small data’s place in the “experience economy” this year.
The value of customer-based big data has been understood for some time, but following these two market events, no one can deny that understanding your customer through small data is a core pillar for the survival and growth of all data-driven businesses. The SAP/Qualtrics acquisition reinforced what category insiders already knew about the maturity and volume of the experience economy, while surprising investors by demonstrating just how much brands value those insights.
I expect this trend to increase as we move into 2019, as large enterprises further harness the power of small data customer insights to complement their existing big data, to shape and drive customer experience. These always-on CX programs will enable customer engagement to go beyond understanding how a customer behaves to understand why they do what they do, how they think, act, feel. And it’s through this that brands will do better at understanding the drivers of decision and behavior. Companies that can get into the minds of their customers will not only attract business but will retain a loyal customer base.
What to expect from enterprises in 2019?
In order to improve data-driven performance in 2019, we should see more consolidation strategies employed across large organizations. Business consolidation can take form in three distinct ways:
- Vendor consolidation
- Technology platform consolidation
- Organizational consolidation
Proctor and Gamble started the movement back in 2012 seeking to consolidate their vendor partnerships from 125 to a list somewhere closer to 30. The strategy not only streamlined spend practices but was ultimately a tactic that created greater focus and output from each partnership. These relationships can impact solution provider decisions through to agency relationships, where the trend of bringing expertise in-house is set to continue. I anticipate a continuation of this consolidation approach across other enterprises in 2019 to focus on business partnerships that deliver the greatest cross-organizational yield. DIY software and improved technologies are also leading the way towards a bigger change that quantifies the value of data, even faster.
Technology platform consolidation
A natural extension of vendor consolidation involves choosing technology platforms that can power insights for cross-functional departments with diverse needs and a broad user base. Put simply, platform functionality will need to do more to meet the differing needs of each team and the proficiency levels of its members to make the cut. This is how customer insights become part of the business fiber of every organizational decision.
As the trend for in-sourced expertise continues in the research and analytics space the role of Researchers, Customer Experts and Insights Officers within enterprise organizations is also evolving. This is helped by solution automation improvements, which can streamline or often remove the more mundane tasks of research like booking, respondent management, or reporting. In turn, these in-house Insights professionals and experts are set to become the insights lynchpin in an organization. The changes will allow them to focus on data strategy and quality, and to be a departmental collaborator, thought-leader, and educator to empower non-research team members to become proficient at the collection and interpretation of the customer data that fuels their everyday business.
As the need to create data-driven agility continues, I anticipate that we will see the decentralization of the traditional Research business unit with role integration into multiple business departments – including marketing, product, and HR. This business unit specialist will foster greater communication and collaboration between multi-functional team members and ultimately improve the quality and usage of insights within each department. It will also create consistency and confidence in the data collected to improve broader insight buy-in.
Organizations have been discussing the removals of silos and placing the customer in the center of it all for some time, however, we have only seen few organizations execute well on this particular strategy. 2019 is the year where they have to place their insights where their mouth is.
As 2018 draws to a close, I would like to extend my warmest regards to all those around the globe who have supported FocusVision throughout the year. Have a safe and happy holiday, however, you choose to celebrate.
Additionally, I would like to extend my greatest thanks to our colleagues at FocusVision, 2018 has been an amazing transformational year and we look forward to great achievements in 2019.
We look forward to making 2019 a success for all.