Social media, expansion of the internet and the ubiquity of computers has allowed companies to capture vast sets of data about their customers. Managed correctly, this data can allow companies to refine their marketing efforts and offer a greater degree of personalisation to their customers by predicting consumer desires and behaviour.
“The challenge is not to be overwhelmed by the exponential growth in available data,” says Nick Bell, CEO of BusinessIntelligent. According to research conducted by IBM; over two and a half quintillion bytes of data was created on average every day in 2012. “That is a daily equivalent to 57.5 billion 32GB IPads’ worth of information which potentially could be analysed to reveal consumer behaviour, and to highlight inefficiencies in a company’s operations or logistics,” says Bell.
A recently reported case in the USA illustrates how uncannily accurate this predictive analyses can be. A leading US retailer, Target, attracted controversy when they sent unsolicited coupons for baby clothes to a teenager in high school. “My daughter got this in the mail, are you trying to encourage her to get pregnant?” was the response of an irate father who demanded to see the store manager. A few days after profuse apologies from the retailer, a somewhat sheepish father contacted the manager again; “It turns out there’s been some activities in my house I haven’t been completely aware of. She’s due in August. I owe you an apology.”
“This is a perfect example of how a rigid deployment of technology can produce an accurate result, but without any sensitivity to the context,” comments Bell. “In this case the company assigned a Guest ID number to every customer and was able to predict the pregnancy by analysing the customer’s purchases in comparison to historical buying data. Aside from possibly being perceived by the customer as quite creepy, the real problem arose because they were more interested in deploying the technology instead of exploring the information in relation to their customers.”
While business analytical tools have been used by marketers in large multinational companies for a number of years, the boom on technology and the lowering of the price barrier has allowed medium sized enterprises to start embracing these solutions in an effort to give their managers high quality information that can inform and improve the decision making process. “With our association with QlikView, we are one of the leading Business Intelligence companies in South Africa, and it is our responsibility to educate our clients on how to effectively implement this technology while still placing people at the heart of the initiative,” comments Bell.