Friday, August 17, 2012

Unpredictable Analytics!

This is my 200th post! :-)

Thanks to all my readers who continued to frequent my blog for all these years and encouraged and shared similar perspectives!

When it comes to digital media, We have the problem of abundance. That's the reason we have so called 'Big Data' solutions. 

Abundance everywhere - be it mobile devices, its features, social media, its humungous lifestream data, and other typical web 2.0 channels such as blogs, wikis, etc. With abundance, people end up having too many choices and often challenged to seek clarity when trying to identify the best thing that suits them. 

To top it all, We have new generation professions called 'Data Scientists' and 'Social / Big Data Analytic' solutions which promise to give some of the unique insights that were never available before - be it competitive intelligence, customer sentiment, persona analysis.

Again, Analytics opens up a floodgate of opportunities which again businesses have to figure out which one is the best to take advantage of.  Regarding Analytics, I came across a very interesting perspective shared by HP-EDS fellow Charlie Bess - who says that analytics should enable us to contemplate on questions that were never asked before, rather than answers/insights. In my view, its a profound statement!.

He goes on to explain - Don't analyze the transactional data of your own customers, instead ask why the similar customers in the market are NOT buying your products/services?. What are their preferences which you are not addressing?. 

The moment you identify a question that was never asked before, you have a innovation opportunity. Today's marketplace has tons of answers seeking questions - be it all new technologies/solutions/devices/services.

But, Identifying the question is not so easy! :-). It's a integrative competency that encompasses many aspects including business acumen, customer insights, technology trends and product/service leadership.

Would like to give another example...I am choosy when it comes to shopping. I dont mind visiting multiple shops/malls when it comes to shopping a product/service that meets my quality requirements.

The Retail store can do lot more data mining and analytics when it comes to analyzing the purchasing pattern of its customer base. But, What happens when an existing customer has a preference, visits the store, doesn't make a purchase, but walks out simply. That's a missed opportunity. I have done that couple of times. Am sure, many shoppers do that especially when they have a clear expectation of what they want to buy.

Often, these opportunities go unnoticed because the customer doesn't make a digital interaction with the business/store. Hence, it goes unnoticed and becomes a missed opportunity!.

If you've observed, in small pharmaceutical shops, if the same scenario had to occur, the pharmacist prompty takes a note of the unavailable prescription and even offers to deliver when the stock arrives in a day or two. But, it doesn't happen in all kinds of retail. 

The question to be asked here - Is there any loyal customer who visits our store and doesn't make a purchase?. If yes, why?

I firmly believe the future service innovations deeply depend on mining the innovative questions. And that requires a unique capability!.

In my previous organization, as a Technology/Architecture practice lead, I was also running Innovation charter for one of the lines of business. In those days, when we run out of good ideas from conventional Innovation workshops, my Director used to challenge me saying - 'The recipe for innovation doesn't lie in analyzing tech trends and coming with cool ideas. The recipe lies in identifying unique business problem statements that are yet to be solved'. Very True!.

In summary, as my other favorite blogger Vinnie says - The idea is not to find out just 'Why'. Creativity is all about asking 'Why Not'.


Venkataraman Ramachandran said...

Interesting thoughts bala. Have to do lot of catch up on your writings. What baffles me in this excitement about BIG data is : We are unwilling to define any limits to how BIG the data we are willing to analyze and drive insights. I think it will drive us insane if we are not willing to place any binders. Just as we are not willing to give any thought to the limit of how social we can get, this phenomenon, as I see it, will drive us bonkers.

Bala said...

Great thoughts Venkat!.

How social you can get?. How big you want the big data to be?

My question would be - if the companies have not even achieved the promised benefits of yesteryear BI solutions (so called 'small' data), How well they could embrace big data?.