This isn’t surprising given its power. “By analysing vast quantities of data that were previously inaccessible, you transform your business culture into one that shapes the future with predictive analytics, rather than hindsight,” says Bruins.
Retailers, as they realise its increasingly vital role, are putting data and data management at the heart of their businesses too. Our survey showed that 90% have it as part of their business plan.But whilst putting it in the business plan is sensible enough real success requires that it is driven from the top as a board level priority. This gives a business a better chance of getting the investment needed in data and insight teams and capability within the business.
Our survey showed that data and insight was a board level concern for 7 in 10 (70%) of respondents. Partly this is being driven by an expectation that data is being used to learn more and partly simply a need for data to fit into the wider, overall digital strategy of a retail business. “CEOs are now frequently asked what their ‘big data strategies’ are and CMOs are being pressured to turn the volumes of information their companies collect into business insights and cunning marketing strategies,” says Bruins.
How exactly boards are driving the importance of data varied. “The board demands evidence to make decisions,” said one retailer, a view unsurprisingly repeated in our responses. “They use it for future product development and resourcing,” said another.
Where data is embraced fully it is also integrated into basic business strategy. “The strategy for the year, which comes from the board, is related to getting, preserving and using the data,” said one respondent. “The board insists that the data is collected and presented in a way that can be used to inform decision making and hence maximise sales,” said another.
Although driven from the top, real success comes from embracing it wholly with successful data-driven organisations sharing the ownership of data across the whole of the business and realising the benefits it brings to all parts, rather than isolating it in IT, marketing or sales.
But new roles are also being created – and new talent brought in – that is putting a greater focus than ever on the important role of data. The CIO, once stuck in the backroom, now has a boardroom focus and new roles – once unheard of - have now emerged such as data scientists, chief digital officer and the customer experience director. “These changes have been driven in retail to win the hearts and minds of the customer through fantastic retail experiences,” says Bruins. And at the heart of this is data.