Has Big Data Become a Big Detour?

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A few weeks ago, the Griswold family (aka the Kraus’s) took a trip to Wallyworld (my sister’s house in Buffalo).  We packed up the family truckster, I fired up my iPhone, opened a GPS App, Waze, and punched in my sister’s address. I did not punch in the rest area 47 miles west of Albany.  Why?  Because that was not my destination – it was merely a necessary rest stop along the way.  I needed to stretch my legs and let Aubrey and Rusty (I mean my kids) get out of the car.  My goal: get out of that rest area ASAP so I could get to Buffalo, my final destination. 

This is exactly the reason why I have big concerns about big data.  Too often, organizations are ending their journey at what should be a quick rest stop.  Many predictive analytics tools, marketing automation applications and company projects are focused on getting more, bigger data.  But sometimes, you end up losing sight of the endpoint.  In my case, you could end up spending your whole vacation at the Starbucks located 100 feet from Route 90 in Amsterdam.  Companies cannot be detoured from their ultimate destination, which is delivering the best, most profitable customer experience.  That guidance applies whether that is making a personalized marketing offer via mobile, seamlessly on-boarding a customer in a branch, or intelligently servicing them via the call center.  Don’t get me wrong, big data, just like that rest area on Route 90, is a valuable stop in the journey. But it cannot become the final destination. 

Observing some of the best of breed companies in the world like PNC Bank, Verizon, DirecTV, Royal Bank of Scotland, etc., they are all tapping into all the great insights in their data to deliver the best, most relevant action to their customer in each situation.  They are not getting bogged down in generating the “ultimate” data model, or getting lost in gathering up big data for big data’s sake.  They are activating the data they have and using it as the critical context to deliver personalized, one-to-one experiences.  As new data becomes available the organizations are incrementally including that data within their customer strategies and continuously refining their actions.  They are using data to drive exciting things, including predicting churn, anticipating customer service inquiry patterns, evaluating risks and determining the likelihood that a customer will accept an offer for additional products and services.  These organizations have connected their data to an automated decision hub that delivers the next-best-action in each situation and provides them real-time insight into which treatments are being effective and what should be modified, so they can immediately refine and improve their customer strategies.  

In their Corporate “GPS” these companies have decided their destination is to optimize customer value, and they continue to drive towards that target.  They have avoided being taken on a big data detour. And as a result they are being rewarded with tremendous business results. 

Maybe even more rewarding than eight hours of quality family time spent on the roads between Boston and Buffalo.