While Big Data could add a whopping £216 billion to the UK economy by 2017, businesses are yet to get to grips with it – to the detriment of their efforts to gain a single customer view.
Research by Henley Business School commissioned by analytics vendor SAS found that most organisations struggle to manage large data sets, let alone Big Data, to capture all cross-channel customer interactions with their company.
Most information held by organisations is unstructured with an estimated 80% of data non-numeric, the study found, while the ‘product’-focused nature of most businesses means that departments and their data are siloed.
This landscape means that those organisations that are committed to a single customer view strategy can achieve significant competitive advantage via the likes of improved customer segmentation and more targeted marketing campaigns. One financial services company interviewed by the research reported a tenfold increase in response rates as a result.
Professor Moira Clark of Henley Business School, said: “While the concept of a complete single customer view is seen as a useful aspiration, the fact is that not all companies see it as achievable or desirable. The most common strategy is to move incrementally towards this goal, each step being dictated by the cost/benefit analysis and the availability of scarce analytical skills. However, a large majority of companies do at least have a project underway to move towards a single customer view, even if achieving it is still some way off.”
Other findings included:
Business-to-consumer organisations were the most advanced in their approach, considering the individual customer and capturing data through schemes like loyalty cards and point of sale.
Business-to-business companies were less developed since the ‘customer’ is another company. This means that data volumes are lower and the focus is on the information within customer relationship management systems and performance against KPIs.
The financial sector is the most varied. Regulatory requirements often mean that information crucial to gaining single customer view is held by the regulatory department with no cross over with the marketing departments’ efforts towards a single customer view.
Dr Charles Randall, solutions marketing manager at SAS UK & Ireland, commented: “It’s surprising to see that big companies are still struggling to get to grips with large data sets – never mind big data. While a lack of in-house skills and securing funding continues to be a challenge for organisations, there are options. Flexible solutions such as analytics-as-a-service or cloud-based offerings mean companies can buy in specific expertise to meet their needs without having to train up existing staff or commit to a large upfront investment.”
Neil Davey is the managing editor of MyCustomer. An experienced business journalist and editor, Neil has worked on a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites over the past 15 years, including Internet Works, CXO magazine and Business Management. He joined Sift Media in 2007.