TechnologyAdvice’s Clark Buckner caught up with LoyaltyGames 2014 World Finalist, Mayur Kapur, to talk about the role of “Big Data” in Customer Loyalty. In this Q&A session, Mayur speaks about how big data and loyalty are related, what big data strategies may or may not work in loyalty Programs, and the future of the exciting industry. Here are some highlights from the second half of the interview:
TA: Can you elaborate a bit on marketing automation software and what kind of role it would play going forward?
It’s clear that with big data, you’re churning out hordes of analysis and insights that you need to then put to good use and execute via your campaigns, and that’s where I see marketing automation software playing a big role in going forward. Marketing automation software is really going to help loyalty practitioners bridge this gap between insights and campaigns/programs (including tasks such as customer segmentation, scoring, etc.) which will help keep productivity levels high by minimizing manual work-elements within such activities, which will be made much easier by the advancement of data processing and smart presentation with the use of a business dashboard for example.
Ultimately, due largely to the impact marketing agency automation solutions can have on an agency’s ability to interact with their clients, I anticipate this software being applied to other fields and industries. Because of this, going forward, it can only evolve into something much larger — something that will play a very critical role in management of the increasingly complex and dynamic customer life cycle.
TA: Based on the above evolution of marketing automation, what strategies should companies employ to best leverage the big data wave to improve their loyalty programs?
The first step is to re-think your “Data Strategy.” Start by thinking about questions like, “What are some of the key problems or issues or opportunities in your loyalty program that you would like to address?” Then think about “What kind of data may be useful for this kind of analysis?” And from there, think about “Where or how can we get this data?”
A simple yet powerful insight from this kind of an exercise, might be that you need to retrain your front-line staff to start capturing or recording customer data differently vis-à-vis the way they are doing it right now. This itself could be very powerful for your business. And we haven’t even started talking about any complicated big data analysis. Once your data strategy is in place, it can be extrapolated to see where and how big data fits in.
Secondly, consider investing early on in Big Data Consultants and Data Scientists. Once your basic data strategy is in place, Big Data Consultants could help you refine and think through your big data strategy. They could perform some basic diagnostics and tell you, based on what you want to achieve and the kind of budget you have, whether a big data rollout would even make sense at this point of time, and if so, they could help you with the business-case for the same.
Finally, make sure that you break down organizational barriers to your big data plans. For your plans to be effective, your marketing team and your IT team will need to work very, very close together. A very interesting prediction from Gartner, is that by 2017, CMOs will actually spend more on IT, than their counterpart CIOs or CTOs. So, it’s very important that these 2 teams — the marketing and the IT Team — start collaborating and working together early on in your big data journey. This will not be easy, since these 2 departments have traditionally been very separate units with minimal day-to-day interaction. It is important to recognize this, and make early changes or tweaks to your organization structure that may help address this issue.
TA: What pitfalls or issues should companies be wary of while applying these strategies?
There are 2 other Vs that loyalty practitioners should remember to avoid common pitfalls often associated with big data implementations –
1) Value – Before you go “all in” with big data, objectively evaluate if you can really use all the data publicly and privately available to you, to add REAL value to your business. Several companies want to jump into big data only because everyone else is doing it, but without a clear linkage between your business issues, your larger data strategy, and your specific big data plans, you may just be prepping for failure.
2) Veracity – Be aware that not all data is accurate and/or complete and/or appropriate enough to be usable for your analyses. Make sure you leverage expert insight early on to ensure that you’re using the right data, and cleaning it up in the right ways before it is used to develop any actionable insights for your loyalty program(s).
Also, one must recognize that big data itself is evolving, and so it’s important to keep an eye out on what’s happening in the market— be flexible with your big data plans.
Mayur Kapur was ranked Top 12 in the World in the 2014 Loyalty & Gamification World Championships (www.theloyaltygames.com), which saw participation from 1500+ professionals and students from 100+ countries. In addition to his day-to-day work which primarily focuses on Management Consulting and Corporate Strategy design & implementation, he takes active interest in Loyalty, Big Data and Gamification trends / issues. Mayur can be reached on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/mayurkapur and on Twitter @mayurkapur