Published in B2B

Big Data – The Case for Customer Experience

Big Data is back on the corporate agenda. I say ‘back’, it never went away for the CIO, it’s just moving with the times, bumped along by changes in operating systems, user technologies and digital transformation.

In 2013 IBM reported over 2.5 exabytes of data were created every day; by 2014 this was 2.3 zettabytes. However, according to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers 43% of companies surveyed “obtain little tangible benefit from their information” while 23% “derive no benefit whatsoever”. 1 Such statements are indicative of the chasm that exists between the collection of corporate data and the presentation of monetised business insights.

The concerning aspect of Big Data is the motherlode of data never mined or analysed because organisations fail to invest and commit to technologies, beyond storage, that truly leverage this data for business change and customer-centricity.

To understand why Big Data struggles to get corporate tenure, Gartner research director Svetlana Sicular recently opined, “To succeed, you must develop a viable strategy to deliver business value from a big data initiative. Then map out and acquire or develop the missing and specialised skills that are needed. Once strategy and skill priorities are addressed, then you can move on to big data analytics” ².

Forbes recently stated that in Europe less than a quarter of enterprises have a clearly defined strategy for Big Data (in North America this drops to under 20%), although 76% of all global organisations surveyed at least have a plan to increase or maintain investments in big data over the next 2-3 years. Significantly for the development of Customer Experience in Europe over 30% of respondents said Big Data was necessary in order to implement and/or integrate new technologies and methods.

Customer Experience (CX) – Big Data Success

Getting singular focus within a cross-functional project such as Big Data may appear to be difficult but successful organisations are doing just that by focusing on a culture of customer-centricity. In short if an organisation can put a value on a customer. The data held can be used to shape experiences and advocacy so loyalty, retention and growth can be predicted.

No surprise therefore, that 64% organisations see CX as the primary ROI goal for Big Data. Of greater interest, and also reported by Gartner4 in 2015, nearly a third of Big Data projects were initiated by line-of-business heads (drawing level with CIOs) with a vested interest in the customer. Data strategy ownership is changing as companies shift to a value and velocity model allowing Big Data to support CX, monetising customer insights to drive business change.

The maturity of any Big Data management strategy, in terms of its integration into connected business functions and insights, could also use CX maturity models, such as CXEvolution, to assess its value to staff, Line-of-Business functions and customer engagement as well as NPS and C-SAT scores.

So what six factors should the ‘Big Data Collective’ consider from the outset of their corporate CX initiative

#1 Big Data Success Factor – Enculturate
Assemble a cross-functional team to lead a Big Data project with a singular focus and goal; customer value – compelling for stakeholder and shareholder value. By democratising interests, the assessment of customer value from the cross-functional project team brings operational datasets into a federated state of One, enhanced by social media postings, survey responses and web reviews.

 #2 Big Data Success Factor – Integrate
Focus on a desired CX outcome that a value can be calculated, such as reversing a 10% year-on-year reduction in lapsed maintenance contracts. Let these calculations become the desired Big Data objective, it will become an ROI statement. Many Big Data projects stall or fail simply because they start without clear business objectives. The feedback and connected analysis of customers’ interactions and experiences will allow companies to use the federated Big Data dataset to assess the points of failure.

#3 Big Data Success Factor – Federate
Assemble your datasource inventory and begin the connection of data, processes and feedback with operational systems, such as Salesforce, to build frontline views and dashboards. Hadoop and services such as the AWS S3 platform, speed the normalisation of data through the use of lightweight, agile and adaptive processing frameworks. These allow the consolidation of both structured and unstructured data into enterprise-class Big Data storage and out into consumerised apps and interfaces.

CX technologies can easily present these data sources for focused customer outcomes, enhancing data further with survey and feedback intelligence as sentiment is collected to complete the analysis of system generated data such as service tickets and product returns. They come with comprehensive reporting and highly visual dashboards, which can be used internally to communicate success.

#4 Big Data Success Factor – Propagate
Nearly there! Creating a dashboard so frontline staff can better interact with customers does not start by evaluating what data exists. It commences with understanding a customer’s typical journey. Customer journey mapping will highlight the opportunities and times when data can be captured and/or recorded. It can even draw in feedback that had previously been missed. For instance knowing when to offer advice at investigation stages or when a customer aborts an online transaction can increase new business revenues.

#5 Big Data Success Factor – Celebrate
Publicise success! It doesn’t matter how strategic your Big Data initiative is, CX will give focus on outcomes that will positively impact ROI. Understanding and acting upon CX insight and analysis creates a better company to do business with. Consequently the outcomes should be fourfold: Increased Retention; Greater Share of Wallet/Budget; Company/Brand Reputation Management; Higher Levels of Customer and Social Media Advocacy

#6 Big Data Success Factor – Incorporate
Do not get side-tracked by UX and DX! For many industries Digital Transformation is a constant strategic objective. If CX is the cake of the customer, UX and DX is the decoration. For Big Data is only as good as the data held, then apps and interfaces only become applicable for use based upon the content they present. In CX content is data, the actionable insights that turn into real-time decision support for frontline and customers.

Big Data, Big Opportunity – Generate
Big Data and CX is the perfect marriage to generate growth through retention, increased share of wallet and reputation management. Yet, in CX terms, only 3%3 of organisations have attained that level of operational maturity that ensure data is being used to proactively manage all customer experiences in real-time.


1 PwC Report “How Organisations can Unlock Value and Insight from the Information They Hold” published Autumn 2015, commissioned by Iron Mountain
2 POV the 2015 Gartner Business Intelligence, Analytics and Information Management Summit
3 The MaritzCX Global CX Assessment Report