As regular readers will know, I prefer to talk about “Leadership” in the context of actual tasks, rather than in some theoretical fashion.
Likewise, whilst there’s much focus on “Big Data” from a technology perspective, leaders must consider its real world application, challenges and opportunities.
In the past year or two, my work has increasingly been to help senior leaders build a strategic and organisational framework to allow them to make better use of data analytics and insight.
My published research had suggested that there are two overall business strategies to focus on. The first is Customer Centricity (driving towards personalised products and services) and the second is Innovation Networks (as an organizational design paradigm).
Today, every business leader’s goal should be to better meet customer needs, treating each customer with a better, more engaging experience and striving for the best possible products and services.
Innovation Networks then drive the organizational design, allowing business to speed up the flow of new ideas, products and services. Innovation no longer just comes from internal activities. Ideas can come from anywhere – suppliers, customers, universities and even government. So enterprises must proactively build networks of internal and external resources, with dynamic structures, common customer language and data exchange that drives the way the organisation innovates.
A “brand paradigm” is the best way to conceptualise this modern, customer centric business. By brand, I mean the totality of what a brand is – its customer base, products, services, image, communication, customer feedback and social network presence.
Increasingly, customer interactions are moving from “push” as default to “pull”. Instead of businesses “pushing” services and products at customers, the individual can now discriminate and “pull” services to them – to suit their exact needs, preferences and timing.
The social environment is increasingly defining what a brand is, as viewed and engaged with by its various and disparate user groups and other stakeholders. No longer does the brand owner pre-ordain “the truth”.
Technology, the web, and Big Data are thus driving transparency – both ways. Today’s technology allows customers to both understand what they are doing (and buying) and communicate (positively and negatively) about brands and companies in real time. Individuals view recommendations from other customers, access products, services, resources and media that they need, and then optimize for themselves how and when it is all delivered and how it is subsequently used.
In these terms, “brand” doesn’t just mean consumer products – it refers to whole companies. They are seen and act as brands in their own right.
“Customer Leadership” combines these ideas. Big Data analytics and insight drives leadership, organization and branding decisions and actions, all aimed to improve customer products, services, experience, satisfaction and loyalty.
It is estimated that only 18% of data that corporations already have is effectively utilised. But, even so, the real power of data analytics comes from starting not with the data, but with the strategic question:
“What problem are we trying to solve – or what opportunity do we want to grasp – and how can data driven insight and processes help”.
The mantra is then “right data – deep analysis – clear insight – measurable action”.
That’s Customer Leadership in action.
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