I recently spent some time with Eric Williams, former Executive Vice President and CIO of Catalina Marketing, to prepare for a whitepaper that he is writing on IT, analytics, innovation and business value. As always with Eric, it was a fascinating discussion so I thought I would blog about some of the interesting quotes from that discussion.
- “speed of knowledge is the differentiator of the decade” – Companies are inundated with data, they have collected or are generating data from many different sources, but until you turn that data into knowledge such that you can respond to competition, adjust to market trends, etc., it’s just data.
- “insights are between information and knowledge” – Insights are what you can find out from your data, but gaining insight doesn’t necessarily mean that you will respond or take action. When you relate that insight into what you are doing, what the competition is doing, what the market needs, etc., that transforms the insight into knowledge, knowledge that can drive action.
- “the consumer is at the center” – With the advent of social media, it’s all about the consume being at the center. Facebook is about me, Twitter is about me… based on this experience, people want things that are delivered to them that are personal. They need a way to cut through the inundation of information so that it is synthesized to what they need. People gravitate to companies that do this effectively.
- “it’s predicting consumer desire before the product even exists” – Although targeting is important, it’s not just targeting, it’s the ability to predict consumer desire before the product is introduced. It’s about using predictive analytics to use data that you have about customers, customer segments, etc., to predict whether the consumer will find interest in your product. And to find the most efficient approach to find the and target the correct market segment.
- “IT teams need to provide solutions that deliver data faster” – First of all, IT is in a unique position to be a business driver leveraging analytics at the core. Organizations have finance, logistics, sales, marketing, etc., each with their own unique responsibility, but it’s IT that is an enabler across all of these functions. But IT needs to resist the urge to drive things from a technology perspective. While technologies like the cloud, Hadoop, etc., are interesting, IT needs to allow the business goal or requirement to drive the right technology. It’s about enabling knowledge vs. delivering technology.
Eric provided some actionable guidance based on his experience at Catalina, where Catalina helped organizations understand what was happening with their products in the market. Catalina helped these organizations create marketing campaigns that improved their position in the market. Eric talked about the fact that while critical, tools like BI, reporting, OLAP, ROLAP, etc., are informational in nature vs. knowledge based. That ultimately it is about the predictive aspects of the consumer, especially in the “me” generation, where people want things that are appropriate to them, that organizations need to cut through the noise and identify specific targets and deliver a personalized message to that market. It’s about tailoring services, products and technologies to meet their individual need, to meet the desires of the consumer.
It’s all about the speed of knowledge and the impact on the business.