In an earlier age, perhaps as little as a decade ago, businesses had to rely on intuition and educated guesses to guide their spending. The situation was famously captured by John Wanamaker, who said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”
Today, data is everywhere. Phones track our locations and our social media usage. Fitbits capture our heart rates and calorie burns. And even advertisers can see precisely who is clicking on their banner ads and content pieces. The days of guessing are over.
In the modern age, every company is a data company. Every department in your company is constantly producing digital records. Business Intelligence (BI)– the data that companies generate in the course of simply doing business – is emerging as an indispensable tool in corporate decision-making. With effective BI, business managers can filter all those records by date, location, function, goal, or any other factor they wish, and receive precise reports.
Businesses of all types and sizes can track their own data and produce useful BI. The challenge is finding useful sources of information that other companies are not already accessing. Ironically, the solution may be closer than you think. It may be hidden in one of the departments in your own company.
Here are some overlooked areas of data value you don’t want to miss.
1. Customer Success Management
Your customers are your business, and data that helps you understand how they relate to your product is fundamental to making good decisions. You have to know what works – which features your clients are using, how often they use them, and what they are trying to achieve- in order to prioritize spending most effectively.
But it is equally important, and possibly even more so, to know what causes clients to leave. Some estimate that it costs five times more to find and develop new clients compared to onboarding old ones. So, any data advantage that can help you keep a higher percentage of clients in the fold is well worth the effort.
BI can help you discover why clients are leaving your company and what strategies are most successful in retaining them. Data from CSM could prove crucial to discovering counter-intuitive ways to bring them back. Improving retention rates even by a small fraction can make a difference to the bottom line.
BI is like having X-ray vision into your company’s operations and it can produce a goldmine of useful data. You see the difference between how enterprise clients use your product compared to small businesses. You can segment by demographics, by how much you spent to acquire the client, how long the average client stays with your company.
The answers are often hidden in the data. Take advantage of your CSM to improve client retention rates.
2. Payroll Analytics
The payroll department has often been treated as the unwanted step-child of both the Finance and the Human Resources departments. It performs the thankless job of calculating worker pay each month and only draws attention when it makes a mistake.
But the department has the potential to turn into a BI powerhouse thanks to the ongoing shift from manual process to automation. Upstart companies like Papaya Global are leading the transformation and increasing value to their offering by adding a BI data layer to its payroll platform.
Since payroll is any company’s largest expense, the data produced by payroll provides the deepest insight available on the biggest spending area – your workers. With BI, everything you want to know about workforce spending is available at a glance, making spending much easier to evaluate and plan.
While CSM and Sales focus on the client and growth, Payroll BI focuses on the inner workings of the company, ensuring that the spending is in line with company goals.
Payroll digitization is still in its early stages, but growth could come rapidly as automation opens doors that were unthinkable with manual processing. In the future, some companies are likely to experiment with “real time” pay, which allows workers to receive their pay each day rather than monthly or bi-monthly. It also means that BI data will be updated in real time, providing the most useful information when you need it most.
In the digital age, marketing is often the most data-drive department in any company. People are already accustomed to seeing the numbers of views on YouTube videos or the number of likes and shares on Facebook posts. E-mails to clients are usually delivered by services that track the open rates and click-through rates of newsletters or product updates.
Software tools and social media engagement can provide a good view of the market segmentation – which groups respond to various messages. This allows greater targeting and better messaging for specific demographics.
The BI data can be used to build the conceptual framework for the whole company based on its goals and values. When those values permeate through the company’s internal communications, it helps everyone align with the overall message, creating consistency that builds trust and credibility.
When it comes to messaging, your audience knows when you mean it and when you don’t. The deeper your values permeate into your company culture, the more authentic your message will be.
For many companies, BI is most effectively harnessed for the purpose of increasing sales. Indeed, that is one of the most effective uses of business intelligence. But it should not come at the expense of overlooking the BI generated by the sales department itself.
While Customer Support Management is about client retention, Sales is about growth. The data each department provides is different but equally important for decision-makers. Together, they form a 360-degree view of the entire market for your product.
That wide view can influence decisions on product, design, user-experience, and development. Since it comes directly out of interactions with potential clients, Sales generates some of the most on-target information available. It provides the most complete picture of what the target market really thinks about your product. Is the price too high? What features should be dropped? Which elements should be added?
More importantly, it also gives you a snap-shot of the potential client himself, in real time. That makes growth easier and more sustainable.
The rise of BI takes the guesswork out of company management. Make sure you check all of the hidden corners of your company for as much useful data as possible. Your competitors are already using their own BI to make the best decisions they can, but you can beat them at their own game by mining the secret goldmines.