How to put data to work

Well, stating the obvious, but it’s difficult to know how best to move forward until you know exactly where you are. Organisations need to take the data they have, inspect and understand it – know exactly who their customers are, what they have, what they want, and how they want it. 

Once the ‘personality’ and behaviour of the client base, customer trends, and any pitfalls surrounding them, have been identified, companies can progress with confidence into the fields of lead generation; campaign design, management, and execution; attrition and loyalty management. It allows companies to identify and execute growth opportunities more successfully. And that is just the application of data in business growth; when properly employed, data’s diversity and utility open breathtaking opportunities. 

In InformationWeek’s article ‘$16.1bn Big Data Market’, it is predicted that companies are going to become ever more willing to become data driven in 2014; applying analytics-derived insights into key business operations. Her belief is that this year is when companies will “infuse analytics into everything that employees touch”.
Every company holds data within which their future growth can be found – the secret is freeing, and appreciating, the pertinent information to identify customers and potential risk.

Looking at risk, if companies are facing a new or emerging regulatory burden, they need to be able to quickly analyse the key issues by designing an optimised compliance program and then executing it. Data analysis enables companies to collaborate effectively and productively within IT and other departments to ensure fast and thorough results. This is yet another of the many areas that analysis can support; from commercial risk and policy development through to underwriting and credit risk management. Analytics, and the awareness it gives, will become essential for smooth operations management. 

Another business benefit is that the results are easily quantifiable.

The benefits are immense and measurable, so why are so few companies utilising such an obviously powerful tool? One reason is that they are unaware of the true value of data or they are not sure how to produce interpretations that can give powerful insights. Another is that those who are aware do not have the physical resources or personnel to take advantage of it. 

This is where we have found valuable relationships with our clients, offering analytic applications that simultaneously address statistics, computer programming, and operations research to calculate and improve upon performance; analysing processes end-to-end whilst implementing a range of interventions.

With all predictions for this year highlighting the need for an understanding and use of data, it is time to get involved now. Companies that try to do today’s tasks with yesterday’s techniques will be facing a very difficult tomorrow.  

2014: It should be remembered as the year that data stopped lounging about and got itself a job.

Leo Curran is Senior Vice President and head of UK/Europe at EXL European Banking & Insurance service.

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