Big data is a fascinating topic by many extents:
the technological challenge is huge as big data processing requires at the same time reliability in the data compilation and agility in the data exploitation and visualization
the new capabilities that are needed to make the data talk is a Human challenge in itself, how to find the right balance between being obsessed by data, constant quest of compilation, indicators, and staying above data in order to identify patterns, trends, …
the way it can dramatically shorten decision process and as a consequence the way it allows extreme experimentation and faster return on experience.
But most importantly it makes companies realize that they can have a deep understanding of their customers.
In a business World where every single company is claiming to a value added agent, selling solutions rather than products, experiences rather than services, customer understanding and even intimacy is way more than one strategic challenge among others, it is purely and simply vital!
We are gently heading towards a new(?)*, and maybe the most simple, fundamental equation of business:
Business Performance = Customer Understanding
The better you are at understanding your customers, the more performant you are. Within this framework, mastery of big data and ability to use it to better understand your customers will become a key competitive advantage.
But fortunately for companies that are still reluctant to launch huge infrastructure programs to master the big data monster, there are other ways to create competitive advantage in the field of customer understanding.
Indeed, it seems that the highly technological concept of big data has brought interesting complementary ideas that doesn’t really require any technological breakthrough…
Look at what the French sports retailer Decathlon has done in one of its store in Singapour.
While the main focus of the initiative was to bring digital in retail with experiential corners… another important feature of this initiative struck me as an impressive example of « lo-fi big data » or « sit next to your customer if you want to understand him » !
Because of the strong presence of self checkouts and digital displays showing product features and benefits, it is not sales associates that are sitting in the middle of the store, it is now brand managers.
They are in direct contact with customers, able to listen to their requests and compile it in order to drive future brand development, in a word: brilliant!
This initiative has reminded what the geniuses at Apple did during their showcase of the Apple Watch during Paris Fashion Week in September.
To (only) have a look at their latest marvel you had to queue for almost 2 hours in a long thin line, and guess who was managing the queue? Junior brand managers at Apple France of course, asking lots and lots of questions on why we were coming to the showcase, what are we going to say to our friends, … pure field marketing genius focused on listening to your militants, another lesson of « lo-fi big data ».
So, where will you put your office?