For the past few years, collecting and warehousing internal data has been a priority for many organizations. And as that data has accumulated, it has proven to have limited utility. Decision-makers now recognize the need for a broader context and unique, varied sources of information that create a more comprehensive picture of the competitive landscape and reflect the true voice of the consumer, opinion leaders, and influencers.
Now organizations seeking a competitive advantage are turning their attention to external data and the advanced analytics required to make sense of it. In fact, 90% of companies have already made or are planning to make an investment in external data and data analytics, which has the potential to grow sales by up to 10%, according to Boston Consulting Group. But few brands are actually achieving these significant benefits. Today, only 20% of organizations actually use the data they collect; as a result, only 29% of investments in analytics generate transformational outcomes.
Why aren’t investments in data paying off?
It’s not a question of access, as there is no shortage of data being collected by organizations who have spent years building up a portfolio of varied data sources. What we’re seeing is an integration problem. External data sets are fragmented throughout the organization, aren’t connected to internal data, and are difficult to make sense of due to their unstructured nature. (More than 80% of all data generated today is unstructured, and this number will continue to rise as more and more data is generated online.) Internal data is often out of date, representing past pricing, customer reactions, or costs that cannot be transformed into forward-looking insights. When different data sets tell conflicting stories, there’s often no good way to use either source to make a sound decision.
The rise of Consumer and Market Insight (CMI) teams
Some organizations have tried to resolve data integration problems by creating new CMI teams. But these teams still face technological challenges, as data remains siloed. There are cultural challenges, too; team members with backgrounds in data science often aren’t able to connect data to business issues or don’t have the bandwidth they need to make headway on a huge volume of data.
Even when CMI teams can give insightful answers to the questions posed to them, they rarely see the impact and thus can’t build upon successes. As a result, colleagues on the business side lose confidence in the value of CMI teams and turn instead to consultancies with experience in producing insights. But this work is expensive, can’t be scaled, and takes a long time to complete. With all of these issues, it’s no surprise that only 7% of organizations are actually insight-driven, according to Forrester.
The better way to go from insights to action
It requires a complete shift in mindset: building upon the foundational understanding that data collection and insights have provided and pivoting to a focus on data impact. Key to this effort is the right technology that can enrich and make sense of the data you already have. Signals Analytics integrates a wide variety of critical external data sources – social media, opinion leader posts, blogs, forums, product reviews, patent filings, conference agendas, research papers, news sites, sales data, and more – into a single platform view, in real time. Integrated together, these data sources generate predictive insights like early trends, competitive information, investment opportunities, unmet customer needs, etc. In an impact-focused approach, data is connected across all functional areas of the business, resulting in data- and insight-informed actions throughout the organization. Decisions can be made faster, conveying valuable first-to-market benefits.
The deep understanding of and obsession with customer needs that results from integrated insights ultimately drives growth, revenue, and measurable results. This is where the true value of advanced analytics lies: in distilling vast amounts of data into actionable intelligence that drives your business forward.