OPINION9 July 2020

Five data pitfalls to avoid in the Covid-19 era

Covid-19 Data analytics Opinion

Addressing data blindspots is even more important for businesses during an uncertain time. By Crispin Beale. 

Two wooden figurines positioned on wooden blocks with a gap between them

A recent ‘Beyond Big Data’ study published by Harvard Business Review surveyed executives on customer dimensions including data, intelligence and experience. It found that, while 85% say integrated customer data insights are fundamental to drive loyalty and satisfaction, only 23% have an adequate understanding of their customers’ behaviours and attitudes. 

This customer insight disconnect is not surprising given today’s data challenges. Rooted in the ‘Five Vs’ – variety, volume, velocity, veracity and visibility – each of these is a potential major pitfall that can waste time and money, distract employees, misguide decisions, deceive strategies and even derail customer relationships. The depth of these pitfalls are increasing given Covid-19 isolation’s impact on consumer decisions and activities. 

Variety: With a spectrum of data sources, from surveys and social channels to systems and studies, it’s easy to miss valuable intelligence, particularly when it is extracted from complex dataset relationships. Failing to unveil this insight excludes critical dimensions of customer behaviours, attitudes, preferences and journeys with your brand. The burden of Covid-19 isolation makes these dimensions even more evasive and complex.

Take a full, cross-organisation inventory of all data sources to include in customer journey and profile development. Every team – marketing, product, customer experience, client services, customer support, finance, sales and even the C-suite – should inventory critical datasets, including those around Covid-19, to integrate with customer experience insight technology.

Volume: The volume of data is perhaps the most daunting aspect of data intelligence. Most enterprises view managing data volume as ‘drinking from a firehose’ and the pandemic has increased this complexity.

This data volume is already part of the organisation, whether internal or external. Using insight technology handles the bulk of ‘heavy lifting,’ managing the ingestion of the variety and volume of datasets while mapping analysis of customer activity. 

Velocity: The velocity of data generation also creates concern. Companies worry they will be relying on static customer ‘snapshots’ which are quickly obsolete as markets shift and customers evolve. So, keeping up is generally a major concern and even more so with the unpredictable fluctuations of Covid-19.

Real-time, multi-dimensional views of behavioural and attitudinal shifts of customers is essential to avoiding this. Customer experience insight technology allows for ongoing dynamic customer views, so decisions, strategies and engagements evolve as customers do. This is especially important with the current ongoing consumer changes.

Veracity: The veracity (truthfulness) of data is vital. Data silos destroy veracity. If you can’t trust the data, you might as well be tossing darts to accomplish each of these tasks.

Centralising multi-dimensional, real-time data into a single-source environment serves as a veracity foundation, delivering  evidence to advise decisions, guide strategies, develop innovations and drive experiences to motivate customers as they evolve.

Visibility: Failing to distribute evidential viewpoints across the organisation makes the previous accomplishments pointless. Democratising customer insight and visualising it across every team will mean that the organisation is ‘marching to the same drummer.’

Removing data silos so everyone is working off the same data evidence is critical. Customer experience insight technology allows this single-source evidence to be safely and securely distributed organisation-wide, empowering every team to visualise customer insights to their needs. All teams are aligned to make decisions, design strategies and deliver experiences.

While avoiding the ‘Five V’ data pitfalls is essential to evolve both data-driven and customer-centric operations, the added complexity of Covid-19 makes it more essential to integrate, synthesise and analyse fragmented datasets to discover insight and visualise it into stories.  

Brands that embrace the technology advancements to overcome these pitfalls and evolve into customer-centric organisations are the ones that will be best positioned to succeed in the ‘age of Covid-19’...and beyond.

Crispin Beale is senior strategic advisor at mTab and a board member at MRS