How to advance your business with data analytics

By Paul Scholey, Vice President of International Sales, Sisense
Paul Scholey, Vice President of International Sales at Sisense discusses the importance of data analytics for business success and growth
Paul Scholey, Vice President of International Sales, Sisense

From helping organisations uncover growth opportunities to reducing bias in decision-making, and anticipating market complexities and risk, the use of analytics gives organisations a stronger competitive edge.

While analytics solutions have advanced considerably over the past few years, moving from IT-led reporting to standalone dashboards and now to infused analytics everywhere, there’s still work to be done, making sure knowledge workers have access to the insights they need at the exact moment they want to take action.

Until now organisations have only considered the benefits of analytics for themselves. In fact, more than half (52%) of the 1,700 European business decision-makers surveyed by Dun & Bradstreet recently said they doubted they could even survive without having relevant, up-to-date business data. Actionable data is an absolute necessity. 

The focus, however, has been on extracting insights from data to improve internal business processes and help teams make smarter decisions. This leaves out an entire, mission-critical part of a business – the products that are built for customers. Today’s most innovative product leaders believe this is a missed opportunity and will take initiative to change that.

Here’s why: Just as analytics adoption increases within businesses when insights are infused from data at the point of decision; the same is also true for an organisation’s customers’ knowledge workers. This leads to customers finding greater success when they take action using the company’s products and services. As the greatest business leaders know, they are most successful when their customers are successful, and customers are most successful when they make decisions using insights from data.

Differentiation with data

Many product leaders once considered analytics as separate from their core products. It was an extra addition, a request from product administrators so they could monitor if anyone was using the product. It was not something that could benefit the product’s actual business users. Now, it’s clear the opposite is true. In fact, when infused deeply into their products, analytics can actually increase customer success, satisfaction, and even loyalty. It can be an integral way to differentiate and stand out from the crowd. 

Take fitness devices, for example. They can all measure heart rate or calories burned, but what sets the industry leaders apart is how well they help people build healthier lifestyle habits. For that, infused analytics is key. In fact, the most successful companies show users their historical trends, prescribe specific activities and exercises based on their goals, and notify them of their progress, nudging them to act. All of these insights are based on data, and they are fundamental to achieving customer delight and loyalty.  

If consumer fitness companies understand that offering personalised, actionable analytics can drive customer satisfaction, then how much more should be done for business products? Customers ultimately purchase products and services to accomplish things they previously weren’t able to. Infusing analytics into user experiences is how organisations can help their customers make even smarter decisions and reach even greater goals.

Embedded analytics opens up possibilities

Currently, the vast majority of business products that deliver analytics to customers do so via methods that feel “bolted on” like emails, web portals, and standalone dashboards. Analytics in this manner is hard to find, unintuitive, and often irrelevant to most end-user goals. When disconnected from core-product workflows, users find it hard to leverage analytics when making decisions and consequently, won’t. A recent survey by NewVantage Partners revealed that even with BI tools that claimed to be self-sufficient, data scientists were still needed, resulting in a drag in productivity and adoption rates of just 20%.

There is a solution, however. It’s one that takes embedding analytics seamlessly into the product and prioritising contextual insights over aggregated data. That way, customers can be informed and take action in the exact same place. The best embedded platforms offer extensive customisation to fit naturally into existing product workflows. And recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies mean insights can automatically be generated from data in a way that makes sense to the customer.  

This also allows users to go from descriptive analytics that simply inform, to prescriptive analytics that advise best actions to take. Customer service representatives can proactively reach out to customer accounts that are likely to churn. Healthcare companies can dynamically adjust appointment availability based on historical data and current demand. Retail managers can plan and shift inventory based on local sales, market trends, and a competitor’s promotions. These are the types of experiences businesses can give their customers – all made possible by embedded analytics.

Reaping more rewards with analytics

Although there is a huge opportunity in enhancing products with deeply-embedded analytics; there are also several challenges to face. Product leaders must see analytics not as separate from their product but as an integrated part of the user experience. They must build on their customer relationships, carefully evaluating exactly what data customers want and need, and critically, where in the product workflow they could use insights from the data.

Product leaders should also bring other parts of the company into the product-development process, showcasing the benefits of embedded analytics, namely increased revenue and customer loyalty and satisfaction. They should work closely with executive leadership to build a roadmap that justifies prioritising hiring analytics talent or investing in off-the-shelf tools. In some industries like health care, involving legal teams early on can help identify and solve regulatory or compliance hurdles that could complicate the using and sharing of data with customers. 

Although these steps will require time and resources, the companies that tackle them will reap the rewards. They will be seen as innovative, differentiating themselves from the competition and becoming disruptive leaders within their industries. Their customers will derive even more value from the products, leading to greater customer satisfaction and stronger business relationships.

Organisations have far too much at stake to not be truly data-driven and intelligent. Given the immense challenges caused by rapid market shifts, economic fluctuations, advancements in technology and more, they must transition to analytics solutions designed and available for everyone, including their customers. 

InfoQuest performed a statistical analysis of customer satisfaction data, encompassing the findings of more than 20,000 customers across 40 countries. It found that a totally satisfied customer contributes 14 times as much revenue as a somewhat dissatisfied customer.

The success of a business is that of its customers. Using analytics to leverage a better outcome for both your business and your customer is the smart way forward.

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