The data race is on and the massive disruption in today’s marketplace is creating momentum for businesses to move exceedingly faster. At a recent Bond.Forums panel discussion hosted by Francis Silva, Bond’s VP, Analytics & Technology, leading experts tackled the biggest challenges and opportunities in data, and how organizations can unlock value—for both their brands and their customers—through data ecosystems.
The panel, “Building a Data Ecosystem to Enhance Customership,” featured leaders from Bond’s best-in-class technology partners: Bilal Khan, Managing Director & Head of Snowflake Canada; Khalil Alfar, GM Customer Success and Chief Data Officer, Microsoft; and Nicole Lusignan, Head of Strategy, North America, Qualtrics.
The panel was part of Bond.Forums, a client community virtual event series that we run. The event, called “The New Rules of Customership,” featured Bond experts and client thought leaders who inspired the audience to build new perspectives and put insights into action.
While data ecosystems are crucial to building bonds with customers and ultimately customership, Khalil from Microsoft said the reality is that most companies don’t know what data they have, and they’re still trying to figure out what to do with it.
“Generally, there is a lot of traditional data such as sales, loyalty, and customer and web behavior data. This is now being supplemented with machine-generated data, and a lot of new types and new sources of data,” said Khalil. “This is causing most organizations to pause and really do some thinking about what data they have and what they do with it.”
At the same time, the world of data is quickly advancing. Nicole from Qualtrics noted that under the old model, companies would gather as much data as possible and then hire smart people to sit in a back room to make sense of it all. “Now, there is data that is constantly feeding machine-learning or AI algorithms. We’re pulling in experiential data and operational data, and we’re pulling in data from customers, partners, and employees,” said Nicole. “So, data ecosystems have become much more dynamic, fast-paced, and based on real-time action.”
Khalil stressed that data is a business asset and is critical to the organization at all levels. “Every person in the organization now has to think about how data can help them make decisions,” he said. However, with the democratization of data (making it available to everyone), companies have to continually train their people on how to leverage the data.
“Not everybody is a data scientist in the organization, but you can structure a skills program to make sure your business users are aware of the power they have at their hands right now,” said Khalil. “Organizations can combine this immense data ecosystem with amazing AI tools and empower every individual to take action and get insight in every role in the organization, not just at the senior leadership level.”
When it comes to the business case, Bilal from Snowflake noted that most organizations want to figure out how to monetize their data, but that’s not the right approach. “Data needs to be tied to a value exchange, not a monetization exchange,” he said. He advised organizations to think about how they can use data to create value and make the customer experience more valuable. “That is where you start to create real brand loyalty and customer loyalty,” said Bilal.
As people across the business are looking to leverage data to make decisions, the panelists discussed emerging trends that should be top of mind. For Nicole, one interesting trend is that data ecosystems are becoming more predictive. “We’re trying to identify problems and respond to them before they become a problem, and identify opportunities and leverage them before your competitors do,” she said.
“What gets me particularly excited is we’ve been testing the limits of what data is capable of doing over the last few decades, and this has all been an experiment in real time,” said Bilal. “But once we turn on IoT and edge computing and begin to activate the physical world in a pretty big way, I think we will not be able to recognize the world we live in.”
“This presents tremendous opportunities for advancement, and there will be challenges and issues along the way,” added Bilal. “But I’m confident that we’ll pull the best and brightest together to solve this and make this one of the most transformational revolutions of all time.”
Reflecting on the advancements data has made, Francis closed the discussion by touching on how Bond utilizes customer journey data to generate profit and mitigate risk: “Understanding personalization and how a customer’s journey is impacted along touchpoints of online and offline worlds is something we’re excited about as we think about the future. Balancing the value of data ecosystems with privacy, compliance, and security risks is key, so brands must not only have intimate knowledge of a customer’s journey but also need to understand which of the touchpoints can generate the ROI from the use of that data, to offset the risks.”
Watch the Bond.Forums event on-demand,
including the full Data Ecosystem panel discussion, here.