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Data and the Members' Journey
Monday, March 20, 2017 6:35 AM

Norma Garza, VP Remote Transaction Resources, Credit Union Resources

Data being all the craze now, we are all clamoring to get more and more of it to analyze and determine the fate of our organizations. I wanted to find out what was happening in the world of data, Big Data (BD) and Big Data Analytics (BDA). 

Interestingly enough, I learned from one source that in 2009 there was but one published paper on the subject, followed much later by a frenzy of published findings that ramped up interest just within the last few years.¹ Prior to 2009, BD/BDA was but a twinkle in the digital world’s eye, and I wondered why. Come to find out, as the majority of us know, the digital world and the fundamental makeup of the data only recently evolved into this gargantuan focus.

Ultimately, I came across three papers, which piqued my interest. All three are thought provoking, diverse, and complementary papers as they pertained to BD/BDA and the customer journey. I highly recommend these good reads, especially in this ever-changing, ever-competitive, and challenging digital environment. My takeaways follow.

EConsultancy’s report, written in association with IBM Watson Marketing, is titled "The New Marketing Reality" and discusses BD, BDA, and the effects of this phenomenon as it relates to the customer journey. My takeaway:

  • A focus on acquisition is blinding executives to the reservoir of potential growth they already possess.
  • There is still a great deal of scope to find growth in existing resources, if only companies are able to focus on improving their integration.
  • Technology is a sticking point even for the more advanced companies. The task ahead is to assess what companies currently have in terms of tools, whether or not they are a fit for the purpose, or how they can be made fit. 
  • The potential reach promised by digital is tempting executives toward an expensive and channel-focused customer acquisition strategy when they should be maximizing their investment by focusing on customer sets they already have.
  • Mapping customer journeys without confusing the issue by introducing more diverse customer segments will allow companies clarity on their most effective strategies and allow them to tie together more cleanly journeys across channels.
  • Being stuck in silos is as much a mindset as a structural issue.
  • Companies further down the customer journey maturity curve are likely to pull away from the laggards even faster in the future.  

"The Critical Analysis of Big Data Challenges and Analytical Methods," by Uthayasankar Sivarajah, Muhammad Mustafa Kamal, Zahir Irani, and Vishanth Weerakkody, Brunel University London, Brunel Business School in United Kingdom, is based on academia and practitioners’ findings and published by the Journal of Business Research. The authors suggest taking a holistic view before delving feet first, so to speak, into the abyss of BD. That said, I respect the authors’ research and highlight the added integral piece of the customer/member journey in the process. Because again, isn’t it all about the member.

And finally, Cathy O’Neil’s "Rogue Algorithms and the Dark Side of Big Data," published by Knowledge@Wharton. I thoroughly enjoyed this paper. While general in nature, it was most interesting in the sense of how data can be misfired in so many directions. Careful consideration and evaluation of the data presented and how it will ultimately affect your member’s journey will be critical as you move forward.

After reading these three papers, you may realize as I did that in the current state of affairs, BD/BDA are years in the making. The bigger question is, How can we incorporate and transcend the resources and information at hand to get us to a point where we are comfortable and confident in the data? How can we be sure the data translates effectively to a meaningful member journey and lifetime value with your organization? And which data will afford the organization the continued competitive advantage?

Keep mindful of the takeaways and heed your members’ value in their journey as you maneuver through the HOV lane of their financial road.