MBS white paper: Harnessing the power of data

Are you excited, confused or overwhelmed by the potential of data to transform your business?

If the answer is “all of the above”, rest assured – countless executives who are racing to keep pace with the technological revolution taking hold across the business world are feeling exactly the same.

Data is the next great dividing line between success and failure in business. With the incredible insights offered by data increasing on an exponential scale, there’s no doubt that the businesses that harness data effectively will not just survive, but thrive in the future. By the same measure, those that fail to will simply not survive.

The 2017 Total Retail Survey by PwC shows the extent to which digital technology has reshaped the business landscape for consumer brands. It finds that ecommerce is now reaching parity with physical forms of retail, as 73% of retailers say they use a website to generate sales compared to 79% for stores.

For today’s consumers, the sharp line between bricks-and-mortar sales and digital transactions has blurred to such an extent that, as Steven Dennis, a Forbes contributor and former SVP of strategy & multichannel marketing for the Neiman Marcus Group, says, “it’s simply ‘commerce’.”

This provides business with enormous opportunities, as every interaction it has with customers – as well as suppliers, distributors and other stakeholders – becomes a data point from which it can derive value.

The challenge is how to go about this in a way that ensures the best possible competitive advantage. This question may demand reorganisation or even transformation of how a company operates.

Data isn’t just opportunity; it’s risk. We need look no further than the recent stories about Cambridge Analytica to see what can happen if data is handled in the wrong way. A conversation is brewing around how businesses can handle their customer’s data with discretion and respect.

The companies that innovate in this regard can win. The regulatory and reputational hazards of not engaging with the issue are simply too great to ignore.

Simply put, data collection can’t be passive anymore. The days of hoovering up everything in sight without clear policies covering its use and analysis are over. Twin processes – the growing complexity of handling data, and its growing importance – make it more vital than ever that robust data strategies are implemented from the ground-up. This effect will only be compounded by the imminent introduction of GDPR.

We at The MBS Group work across the full range of consumer businesses, including bricks-and-mortar operators and pureplay digital organisations. It’s telling that regardless of background, all of these businesses are seeking to adapt and gain an edge in this new age of ‘big data’, from the hires they make to how they structure their teams.

The question then, is how. How can businesses structure their organisations to ensure they get the most from their data? How can companies observe the spirit as well as the letter of the law and win their customers’ trust? And most importantly, how can you drive wholesale and fundamental digital and data transformation?

In this report, we speak to representatives from a range of businesses to understand how they are reshaping their brands around data – from increased customer personalisation and key efficiency gains to the new regulatory landscape and the role of AI.

We explore the untapped potential data holds for businesses, the imminent arrival of GDPR, the power of so-called “Big Data” and the state of the rapidly-expanding data talent pool in the market today. And beyond the nascent Chief Data Officer, Chief Customer Officer and Chief Data Scientist roles we are now partnering with clients on with increasing frequency, we’re seeing a clear trend in which every executive role now demands a significant comprehension of data and analytics.

We finish with a write-up from an event held by MBS and venture capital firm LocalGlobe, in which we analysed the role of data through various case studies and speakers.

From all of these insights, the message is clear: the time to act is now, lest businesses get left behind.

Read the white paper here: Harnessing the power of data

Stephen@thembsgroup.co.uk | @SteRosenthal | @TheMBSGroup