RUN SIMPLE: What companies of all sizes should know about today’s business data networks

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Company leaders in today’s world have access to more data and insights than at any point in history.

It makes for a vastly richer decision-making environment.

It also creates a range of challenges for any leader: knowing what data sets to collect and then interrogate will influence decisions, from how to handle day to day customer interactions to major capital investment decisions. After all, as legendary management thinker Peter Drucker said, what gets measured gets managed.

The other part of the challenge is how to combine different sets of data to shed new light on old problems or stimulate new creative thinking about hidden opportunities.

Business Insider asked a range of successful Australian executives whether and how they use different data sets to either spur ideas or seek innovation.

From what they use to how they use it, here’s what these 13 executives had to say.

1. Ned Moorfield, CEO of goCatch relies on rich customer usage data.

“goCatch uses rich geospatial traffic data to make better informed decisions during job dispatch, which gives passengers more certainty than ever about when their taxi will arrive and when they will arrive at their destination.

“We also have very rich customer usage data. For example, we know if a customer is heading to the airport or a major sporting event and can target marketing messages to these customers in real time.

“We can also communicate with drivers to alert them to job hot spots in real time.

“Our customer lifecycle is an example of a data sets / data flow and how we communicate and build a relationship with them from the moment they sign up to our service.

“This process works by targeting communications (either phone push messages or eDMs) to customers based on ‘actions’ they have taken. We use real time data to do this.

“One example is to communicate to customers during peak times. Based on data sent to us by the customer, we know how long they have been waiting for a taxi and we can communicate to them that it may take a little longer than normal to secure a taxi. This provides reassurance to the customer and helps significantly with customer retention.”

2. Chris Strode, founder of Invoice2go uses data to get a full picture of the customer perspective.

“Customer satisfaction is a big one for us, and we collect a number of core insights every day that give us a full picture of the customer perspective. We look at data from customer NPS (net promoter score) surveys, customer service tickets, reviews left in the app stores, and social media. We also correlate feature usage over time so we can identify critical issues, any gaps, and can improve the experience for our users.

“Something that may surface as a singular complaint on social media can actually be an indication of a larger trend, and by only looking at one data point, we wouldn’t see the severity of the issue. We are always improving the process of collecting and comparing all the feedback that comes in across the channels so we have the right context to quickly make informed decisions.”

3. Georgina Nelson, CEO and founder of truRating, uses data sets and tools to monitor weekly performance.

“As a start-up we’re learning and growing and are constantly looking to improve and innovate. We review our performance weekly in international meetings and share these across the group as part of our truAchievements, so all of the team are involved. We use a combination of tools to monitor performance; the standard reviews of digital engagement (web hits, email opens & clicks, social mentions, media mentions etc), use our CRM and customer service systems to gather information on merchant engagement and satisfaction (such as dashboard views and customisation), and an in-depth view of how customers are involving themselves in the ratings process, including ratings trends (peaks, troughs and anomalies), exit surveys, market research and mystery shopping in live venues.

“truRating is all about providing our merchants with a robust view of their customer sentiment. We collect ratings data across key customer satisfaction metrics and marry this with location, date, time and transaction value data and in some instances basket contents too. The information is presented back via near-real-time dashboards in an easy format to consume and use throughout the business. This 360-degree view has allowed merchants to identify that happy customers spend on average 21% more than disappointed customers and to focus on the area of customer experience that is most important for their vertical to drive increased revenues. The truRating team uses the data to recommend business improvements or how best to trial new initiatives.

“At truRating HQ we also review complex data sets to identify how to improve our own product. Outcomes of mystery shopping and merchant feedback, plus ratings trends, have delivered multiple improvements including an ability to review dashboards on the fly (our merchant mobile application) and improvements to our eCommerce ratings application.

“Data is fundamental to our business and drives every decision that we make. We are constantly using our data to business case ideas, test new activity and assess performance.

“A good example is that in the UK we’ve reduced our merchant go live process from over a month on average to a matter of days by improving data flows with our partners and merchants. We also use the ratings data to come up with great ideas for our merchants.”

4. Emily Yue, co-founder and COO at Expert360, says using multiple data sets is the only way to fully understand user experience across digital and non-digital contexts.

“Understanding your business and the overall user experience across digital and non-digital contexts is a puzzle that requires multiple data sets to piece together. All of Expert360’s systems and data are linked – that’s financial data, project data, platform usability data, marketing data.

“At the top of the funnel, monitoring the effectiveness of your inbound marketing activity is absolutely key to understanding which channels connect with your target audience and drive traffic to your site. Once users hit your website, there’s so much that analytics and feedback can tell you. Google Analytics, Marketo, Kissmetrics, Crazy Egg are a number of tools that can help you piece it together. We’ve been able to use these tools to analyse the user journey and view how visitors interact with different features on our platform and identify areas we need to improve to meet their needs. We use a combination of journey flows, site drop-offs and heat maps, customer interviews and real-time feedback.

“At a more macro level, data and reporting from research and consulting houses (from Ibisworld to specialist firms) can be useful in understanding industry trends and customer behaviours at a high level. Digital consultants, data scientists and management consultants with specific industry or functional experience can also help you piece this puzzle together. You often have the data – but just need the tools to analyse it to drive insights and actions.”

5. Evan Tait-Styles, CTO at LegalVision, uses data set to stay on top of consumer behaviour.

“LegalVision collects data from every source we possibly can. It can be quite difficult to integrate all of the various sources into a single repository, but the insight that this data gives us is crucial to the continued growth of our business.

“An example is a returning client that gets in touch with us. We know that they originally contacted us x months ago to draft a particular suite of documents. We know which social media channel they came through, which post they clicked on, which team member they engaged with, how long they took to convert, and we now know how long they took to re-engage with us.

“We can now apply this knowledge to tailor any aspect of our business processes. We can target similar existing clients that are at the same stage of their business cycle, we can tweak our social media to acquire new clients that are at a similar stage, we can look at our product offerings and create a new document bundle.”

6. Adam Ryan, founder and CEO of think Procurement, focuses on consumer feedback data.

“We have always tried to stay as close to our clients as possible, giving them every opportunity to communicate via every channel. Weekly and fortnightly updates are essential for clients to express insights into how the business is performing and how relationships are faring.

“We are initiating social media monitoring as our brand awareness expands via media channels such as Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and our blog pages. This is in the early stages and as it grows we will need to look at resources to support and monitor all media channels.

“As a transactional data based business, we rely on reporting down to a single frame of data reference. This data allows us to use revenue transactions, payment timeframes, products supplied and bought and benchmark pricing across all areas to supply our clients with BI to change buying behaviour and increase profit margins. The ability to report on the smallest data point gives us an advantage over the usual aggregator reporting tools.

“Within our platform, data flows are benchmarked against like for like industries and also against external data measures so that even the smallest changes can be viewed and decisions made as to any adjustments required regarding pricing, placement, order size, etc.”

7. Michael Haywood, commercial director and co-founder of LiveHire, focuses 100% on consumer data and 0% on competitor data.

“We focus 100% on clients and 0% on competitors. Our vision is to evolve the LiveHire platform to humanise HR, not automise. To this extend we monitor closely our data around these human engagements. The response times to 1 in 1 conversations, what devices are used (video, sms, email etc) and how quickly people are able reach hiring resolutions.

“Our technology helps clients aggregate talent from infinite source channels both online and offline. We use holistic data across every client in the ecosystem to advise all clients which source channels are the most cost effective ROI for the specific skills they are chasing.

“Our whole business is data, labour supply-side data. We host peoples live digital career resumes so we know holistically what industries people are transitioning out of, and where they are going, hence we know where to focus our attentions on helping clients connect with the best talent on demand, and fill capability gaps.”

8. Commvault ANZ’s area vice president, Bryan Stibbard, says holistic management of data sets prevent security risks and productivity dips.

“No matter the size of the business, we are all facing an increasing number of data sources which present huge opportunity, but also complexity. And it’s only set to escalate with the rise in both structured and unstructured data, allowing the likes of marketers to bring social media chatter into customer engagement, R&D or maintenance teams to gain real-time information from connected devices, and innovative applications providing a door to never before seen insights.

“However if organisations do not take proactive steps to gain a holistic, single view of their information and its value to the organisation, they will continue to be faced with disparate data sources, causing security risks and hindering productivity. Further, single point solutions are creating yet another data silo source, which exacerbate the challenge rather than harness the opportunity. Data management solutions that enable organisations to see where the value lies in their information across different data sources, and in turn allocate the right investment to manage that information, are fundamental to making data a true strategic asset.”

9. Keith Louie, CEO of Aussie Farmers Direct, is strongly focused on tracking product quality metrics, warehouse pick and delivery accuracy, and sales data.

“We constantly track our performance using a wide range of metrics and data sources. All our key performance measures are aimed at improving the customer experience, so we are strongly focused on tracking product quality metrics, warehouse pick and delivery accuracy, and sales data. We track these metrics via customer research and insights, direct customer feedback into our call centre, through our social media channels and via our franchisee delivery network.

“Our key business measures form a dashboard that we review at our weekly trading and performance meetings. Having a simple clear dashboard gives you a clear picture of health of your business and key trends. We can quickly judge promotional effectiveness, basket size, sales and margins, customer complaints, and productivity metrics.

“The beauty of retail is that customers are more than happy to tell you what they like and don’t like about your offer! We’ve had some great customer insights come through that we’ve acted on. Most recently we launched tailored product bundles in response to customer feedback for more meal solutions, such as a breakfast bundle, or entertaining platter.”

10. SelfWealth CEO Andrew Ward, says business performance is tied directly to staff performance.

“As a startup SelfWealth’s business performance is tied directly to staff performance. We’ve developed an internal measure: Capacity, Capability, Quality and Motivation (CCQM). This dictates how we manage quality of work and also rewards: we have a monthly board meeting where we dictate which staff get how many options based on this rating.

“We are constantly measuring staff based on these four important measures. In a startup the work changes daily or weekly, so it is impossible to have annual reviews because we are in a constant state of flux and growth. We are also constantly monitoring signups, but use of these data sets and KPIs are something we will consider in the future.”

11. Debby Soo, Asia Pacific vice president at KAYAK, keeps a close eye on the data of partners and social media channels.

“Data is at the heart of our business and we constantly monitor a number of sources to refine our service and products.

“Along with monitoring our own site’s search data for customer behavioural trends, we keep a close eye on the data of partners and our social media channels. We often have to pull in a number of sources to get a full picture of what’s happening in our business. We’re always keeping an eye on the volume of searches to track the efficiency of our site, but also work with our partners’ purchasing data to look at the conversion rate from search to booking in order to deem how relevant each search is. This gives us a broader view of the success of what we’re doing.

“We continually monitor customer behaviour and adapt our products accordingly. We recently noticed our iPhone customers were searching for 4* and 5* hotels more than Android users. As a result, we tailored our search engine to aggregate more luxury hotels to suit this customer trend. Social media also plays a huge role in how we function. Because we monitor all feedback, if there is a customer issue with a partner, we’ll prompt them to ensure the issue is resolved.”

12. John De Bree, managing director at Capify, says smart insights and tracking is imperative to enhancing the consumer experience.

“As a FinTech organisation it’s imperative that we focuses on personalising the customer journey as much as possible through the use of smart insights, tracking and automation to provide a satisfactory, yet efficient experience for the user.

“From an external communications perspective, we monitor user journeys from the first touch point of interaction with our websites or marketing material right through to the last touch point of interaction before a conversion takes place.

“Within this journey alone, we are monitoring data depicting the time/day customers connected with Capify, the source in which brought them to Capify (broken into 3-5 source tiers), the pages they’ve interacted with on our website, time spent on specific pages, objects (videos etc) that they engaged with and more. Within the first 5-10 minutes of a customer browsing our website we already have full transparency as to the customer’s journey throughout our website; their interests, what links were clicked, what blogs were read, were they interested in business loans? Or merchant cash advances?

“Using an email as an example – Capify reviews the email performance metrics in combination with the landing page and any applicable multivariate or A/B testing that took place, extracting insights from how our email recipients interacted with the email/LP and what grabbed their attention.

“Customers that express interest in applying online will start their 3-step application process where we incorporate the tracking measures to capture the information provided in the application form. We will then build upon the customer profile: personal details, insight into the customer’s business type and integrity, industry segment, financial stability and geographical location.

“We have invested heavily into our CRM platform to collate all of this data. The data is used to build a unique and detailed customer profile page in which specific marketing automation activities and lifecycle programs are activated as a result of the information we collect from the customer.”

13. Ty Flippin, ANZ vice president of sales for xMatters, says the most important ‘data set’ is the human connection.”

“As a cloud-based software provider, it is key that xMatters monitors the performance of our service against contractually committed service levels. Similarly, we measure the performance of each element of our business. However, the most important ‘data set’ we monitor is the human connection. Our team is laser focused on the customer experience, and the best feedback we have to build on is the 1:1 interaction through our local account teams and client success managers.

“xMatters uses a normalised scorecard to measure performance across all elements of our business. This includes scoring the effectiveness of everything from marketing generated sales leads through to operational efficiency and ultimately, client retention and satisfaction.

“xMatters monitors the results of actions. If a certain action generates a positive result, we will look at ways to replicate that across the business. Likewise, if we find activities that tend to generate more work than results, we will look to improve that in the future. My responsibility is to grow our business in the region by adding value to our new and existing clients. In order to do this, we look at the successes of our clients and ensuring that we are sharing those successes across the board. These success metrics are tracked by xMatters’ client success management team and this is measured for our efficiency and growth.”

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