Data drives value on the balance sheet for customer experience brands

There’s increasing urgency behind the need to operationalise customer data in this new era in customer experience. Learn how leading Asia Pacific brands are doing just this.

For customer experience-led organisations, the value of data – both business and customer-led - is increasing as it’s organised, understood and operationalised to drive growth.

This comes as no surprise considering data-driven enterprises grow at an average of more than 30 percent annually, according to recent research from Accenture.

There’s increasing urgency behind the corporate need to operationalise customer data in this new era in customer experience sparked by changing behaviour in an increasingly digital economy as we adapt to a post-COVID-19 world.

“Digital marketing has actually unlocked a new world of data,” says Adobe’s CEO Shantanu Narayen.

“Customer data and interactions have become the new asset on every balance sheet to drive both customer value and business growth.”

Why data is the new capital

Brands such as AT&T have listed customer data on their balance sheet for years alongside other intangibles such as trademarks and brand names. Nevertheless, many companies struggle to put a value on their data.

Accenture, however, predicts, 90 percent of corporate strategies will explicitly mention data as a critical enterprise asset by next year.

Data, it maintains, is a “new form of capital” that’s essential for businesses to survive and thrive in the digital era.

“CEOs who see data as capital can grow and ultimately reinvent their businesses to be more data-driven,” says Accenture’s Data and Applied Intelligence lead Shail Jain. “This means that every CEO must be as strategic about acquiring, growing, refining, safeguarding and deploying their data as they are with their human, financial and intellectual capital.”

Benefits of real-time data

Recognised brands are prioritising the development of a customer data strategy. 7-Eleven, for example, recently relaunched it’s My 7-Eleven app to connect the company and its consumers in the ‘last mile’ of purchases.

“It was always about first-party data,” General Manager for Strategy and Technology Stephen Eyears told a recent Adobe forum. “In fact, it’s all about that.”

Last year, the convenience retailer announced strategic partnerships with Adobe and Microsoft to offer customers personalised digital experiences at scale and recently flagged ambitions to drive 28 percent of all transactions via digital channels by 2030.

“Relaunching My 7-Eleven is clearly about being more convenient for customers, but we want customer data like everyone else wants customer data, so we can anticipate people’s needs and respond to them,” Eyears says.

The value of the customer data now being captured is vast, according to NPD Group Food and Beverage Analyst David Portalatin, who says it can “inform better suggestive selling, new product development, and limited-time offers that are really relevant to specific customer needs”.

The first-party data imperative

With the third-party cookies that underpin internet browser-based tracking on the way out thanks to moves by Google, Apple and Mozilla to strengthen consumer privacy protections, the importance of a robust first-party customer data strategy has become paramount.

“Brands that develop and own their own first-party assets and strategy are in control,” says Gabbi Stubbs, APAC Product Marketing Lead for data management solutions at Adobe.

That desired level of control is still some way off for many organisations, however. According to Accenture, 81 percent of organisations lack an enterprise data strategy that will enable them to fully capitalise on their data assets, while 84 percent lack the right data platform.

Meanwhile, just 15 percent of organisations with ad-hoc data solutions say they have robust, accurate or actionable data insights, according to the 2021 Digital Trends report.

An enterprise approach to data strategy for customer experience-led brands

To bridge this gap, leadership teams must prioritise investments in an enterprise-wide data platform, data governance, and management processes and put effort into building a data-driven culture.

“This means [having] a data and analytics platform that identifies connected and contextual data across the enterprise,” says Accenture’s Shail Jain.

Indian bank HDFC is beginning to see the benefits of an integrated data strategy after connecting its core business APIs to its customer experience technology stack.

The result has been the ability to track the impact of digital marketing activity on customer revenue generated by customer actions, such as new loan disbursements, within 30 minutes, according to HDFC Head of Martech and Automation Deepak Oram.

“Product teams looking after loans were never used to this,” Oram told the audience at Adobe Summit. “IT was very happy because if I [have] down time, I can see the cost of that.”

The ability to help HDFC staff understand customer needs and reach them with relevant offers in a timely manner also means “more revenue for the bank”, Oram says.

Conservative policies pay when it comes to privacy

With privacy regimes strengthening around the world and recent regulatory reviews highlighting “a substantial disconnect between how consumers think their data should be treated and how it is actually treated”, a robust data strategy must include built-in privacy and regulatory compliance.

There is a gap between practice and expectation when it comes to privacy, even within organisations. While 92 percent of senior marketers say privacy is a fundamental part of the customer experience, just 53 percent of executives at mainstream organisations say privacy and consent are key factors in their planning.

But brands must play within strict opt-in privacy guardrails if they are to develop sound long-term data strategies in an area that’s changing quickly.

For example, Apple recently announced changes to strengthen privacy features within iOS15 that include clamping down on device-specific IP address tracking, preventing email senders from knowing when a user has opened an email and providing a privacy report that tells users which apps have accessed their data. These followed hot on the heels of earlier changes that required consumers to opt in to allow apps to track their behaviour.

Big tech privacy clampdowns such as these will benefit “anybody that has a sophisticated first-party data strategy”, according to digital media collective ThinkPremiumDigital, along with “anybody that has already pivoted their business to privacy-centric products”.

“The technology that is going to be the saviour is technology that enables clients to centralise and operationalise their own first-party data and be able to activate off that,” says Stubbs.

Treating data as a valued asset

Beyond privacy, business leaders have realised data is “just like any other important asset on a company’s balance sheet with value far beyond the cost of systems,” reports Forbes.

Brands that are looking to value their data as a critical asset should consider:

Taking these steps put your organisation on the path to developing a data-driven operating model that will see you derive true value and drive growth from data — one of your organisation’s most critical assets.

Discover how first-party data can deliver first-rate experiences. Prepare for a world beyond third-party cookies now.