The Automotive Industry is Driving Data Analytics

It’s nice to see that the amount of companies using data is increasing. It’s also pretty cool to see some of the new innovative ways that companies are doing so, especially with data analytics playing a big role in achieving new levels of success.

The automotive industry have been trying their hands using data and they’re doing it well. The amount of data that can be gathered from cars is quite ridiculous, especially when you take into account that a lot of data is simply stored in the key which is then plugged in at the garage to unlock it.

Cars have been kitted inside and out with data. Yes, I bet that’s not one you’ve heard about as it’s not quite cream leather interiors or mud resistant trip. Data is so much better. It’s behind vehicle safety and quality and contributes to the driving experience.

Did you know, the average hybrid vehicle generates up to 25 gigabytes of data in just one hour? Car manufacturers and garages have been capturing telematics for many years however it’s becoming much more sophisticated. Using analytics and data has enabled technology to alert drivers of any hazards on the road, or if the conditions are particularly dangerous. Anti-locking systems, traction control and so much more have been created with the help of data. IBM reported that Volvo, through using predictive analytics, repair instructions and identifying replacement parts before a vehicle arrives for a service has benefit from a reduction in diagnostic times by up to 70% and repair times of over 20%.

Furthermore, with recent years having cars being recalled, some companies like BMW are using data analytics to record errors reported by customers to identify any potential weakness in new models that could cause problems and then eliminating them before they even go into production. Now if this isn’t major cost savings, increased efficiency and keeping a good reputation then I don’t know what is.

Connected vehicles are becoming more popular. Services and experience can be constantly updated one the car has left the factory. They can have important updates and interactions without having to return and this has proven extremely useful through the connecting capability. Ford, for example have focused on more “consumer-based, more real-time interaction, real-time services, real-time experiences, contextualized experiences” rather than the storage capabilities of the cloud.

It’s not just information about faults that manufacturers use data for. Financial predictions means cars are priced according to the market and behind the prices are more realistic pricing plans and financial support. It goes without saying that car companies will use their contact data for marketing purposes and targeting their communications to ensure their messages stay relevant. They’ve proved that data can go far beyond the use of marketing and with the likes of BMW and Volvo showing that data is having a rather positive impact on business, it will be interesting to see where and how the market takes its usage of data.

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BUILD A BETTER DATABASE: PART 2

So you’ve read part one of our blog about the property industry using data, now it’s time for part two: data in the construction industry! If you haven’t read it you can find it here, but if you have – venture on, my friend. 

I’ll never forget when I was younger my dad teaching me how a dome structure is super strong. He gave me an egg straight from the little box and had me place my two hand on opposite sides of it and then try to break it by squeezing them together. It’s just not possible and I try every time I go to make eggs. So that was my first little insight into the construction industry and infrastructure.

So behind all the awesome projects and massive, technical infrastructures – how does data help behind the scenes?

I’m always hearing dad on the phone talking about the costs of a project. Getting the costs wrong of the tiniest nail or screw could actually bankrupt a company because the projects are that large.

The industry is lagging slightly with their use of data, however it is moving in the right direction – towards real-time, cloud powered analytics of massive, unorganised datasets. I’ve said before that data is the golden thread that ties departments together and this couldn’t be more true: creative architects, logical engineers and cost-aware owners can work together and ignore the previously tense relationships they had with each other as data can help them to develop and deliver projects which accommodate for all parties.

For far too long the process of procuring building and infrastructure assets has been carried out in separate, often unconnected, stages.  The advent of BIM (Business Information Modelling), which ensures people and information working together effectively and efficiently through defined processes and technology. It allows all organisations and people involved in the life of a project to realise significant benefits and reduce risk -and not just financial.  Significant time benefits can be achieved as well as reduced operation and maintenance needs and, in the case of occupied buildings, improved enjoyment for the people who live or work there.

John Jacobs, CIO for JE DUNN told Forbes that “that their new Big Data driven BIM (building information modelling) system is estimated to have reduced costs of one $60 million civic center construction project by $11 million, and cut the projected completion time by 12 weeks by drastically shortening the pre-construction phase”.

This type of system is a sure way to win tenders and bids for projects as not only are the savings huge but the completion time is drastically reduced – I know when my dad is bidding on projects for his company, he’s constantly looking for ways to reduce costs and ensure the project can be completed on or before the deadline.

External data plays a large part too, for example weather reports. Awful weather can delay building projects (the bane of all construction companies lives!) which then lead to increased expense. By being able to monitor the weather and using the data from previous year, more accurate assessments can be made to account for these obstacles.

Databases are constantly changing; they are never in a set state. As will all other industries, construction databases are no different. Regular cleansing keeps on top of the many changes that these massive datasets will be up to date and ensure marketing communications and reputations are upheld.

So that’s another snippet of data in the construction industry. The opportunities are huge if the data is utilised correctly, and it’s certainly an interesting relationship to keep an eye on in the near future.

 

Build a better database – Part 1

2017 has started on a good note for Data8! We’ve been announced as Technology Firm of the Year 2016 by Build Magazine, a magazine featuring everything from the latest products and techniques, to up-to-the-minute design trends and industry-moulding regulations. This had us thinking, data along with construction and property are rarely paired together, so of course I decided to investigate.

So, just what has data got to do with the property industry?

Let’s start with property. Everyone in some way in related to property – whether you work in a building, live in a house or a flat or grew up in one, I could go on and on.

One way that data is used in this market is to predict trends. This isn’t a property price report that you so often hear on the news, this is predictive analytics. The very same type of analytics which shops and businesses use to predicts their trends for their sector. This data, which is based on previous house prices, trends and location reports is used to predict which way the market will turn and the values that can be placed upon houses whilst taking into account a number of considerations such as hazard risk, location, house type etc.

Another example comes from property investors. They have a useful tool which allows them to compare their performance against a bench mark – so they can have their rental rates crunched along with value and management cost using the IPD (formerly the Investment Property Databank). This is just one example of how data can be used as a performance comparison.

Also, an interesting fact I came across a survey by Canadian real estate advisory firm Altus Group is that $11 TRILLION of real estate assets are being managed by manually inputted spreadsheets. Yes. $11 TRILLION – that’s written like 11,000,000,000,000. Just let that sink in. Then think about the level of errors which will be on those spreadsheets and what it could potentially cost the company in irrelevant communications, privacy breaches, time wasting etc. The data is there and the potential to use it to gain a major competitive advantage is there, but as with any industry manually inputting information, there will be errors and these need identifying and cleansing.

Also, validation solutions are extremely beneficial in the property market – for example, determining credit scores, whether that’s for a potential tenant, investor or first time buyer. With regards to the errors in spreadsheets – estate agents could install validation tools so that customers input their own details which are validated in real time at point of entry. These tools are linked to the CRM system, ensuring only correct details are input! Pretty jazzy if you ask me.

Property, often seen as an opaque market is now becoming more and more transparent thanks to data as it’s providing more understanding and allowing people to compare prices, locations etc. in an unbiased way. I’m not undermining the property industry at all – the human touch will always be needed as a computer cannot provide the situational advice and support a human can.

So, a small insight into the link between property and data – there’s so much more to it as it’s just a varied and dynamic market. But in summary, property uses data for: predictions, analytics, communications, performance indicators and insights into business.

Stay tuned for part 2: data and construction!

GDPR Is Creeping Closer

I’m not sure about you, but I’m so ready for summer!

Summer sun, holidays and the beach. Decisions about where to go, who to see and what to do! Never mind getting that beach body in order….oops! Decisions, decisions, so much to do, so little time!  And so starts the countdown…

…not only the countdown to Summer but also to the GDPR. For those not familiar with the GDPR it stands for the General Data Protection Regulation and will come into force in the UK on May 25th 2018. The aim of the regulation is to give individuals power over their personal data and unify data protection legislation within the European Union. With this being an EU regulation, post Brexit there were thoughts that it would not apply to the UK. Given Article 50 has not yet been invoked, the earliest the UK will leave the EU is the end of January 2019. Therefore, the GDPR will apply directly in the UK for some time, and the GDPR or similar will be made UK law following the UK exiting the EU. At the very least companies operating across Europe will have to comply with the regulations post leaving the EU.

So what planning do companies need to do ahead of 25th May 2018? The ICO has a good overview of the GDPR  on their website. Together with this they have also set out the 12 steps that Companies who control or process data will need to make in preparation for the big day.

The 12 steps range from ensuring senior decision makers at companies are aware of the changes that will be implemented by GDPR, to the obtaining and recording of consent to be contacted.   Data breach and Data Protection Impact Assessments are also covered.  Interestingly if the recent data breach by Tesco bank had occurred when the GDPR was in force they could have been facing a fine or nearly £2 billion. Scary thought.

The clock is ticking, the GDPR are getting closer. Act now, for those of you who process or control personal data, review the ICO’s 12 steps to take in preparation for that big day, the GDPR!

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DATA IN THE BOX, OUT THE BOX AND EVERYWHERE AROUND THE BOX

Okay so get your open minded espadrilles on for this one. We’re thinking outside the box. 

The world of data is often associated with massive databases being left on the Tube after being saved on a USB stick, or foreign secret agents sneaking into quietly whirring rooms illuminated with real time calculations across walls full of screens to find that one piece of data to save the world.

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So I think we can agree it’s often portrayed as risky business and maybe this is why people are so hesitant to provide many details because all we ever seem to hear is bad news.

Well here at Data8 (we put Fort Knox to shame, just to let you know) we obviously see data as a gateway to understanding customers, improving websites and communications as well as a plethora of other uses. So I’m going to try to hold your hand and show you the utopia that the world of data is. Who even puts a highly classified database on a USB stick anyway. What a breach. I digress.

Education

So aside from one of the most obvious advantages; targeted communications for sales etc. etc. let’s talk about education.

Technology and data has allowed for education to be more widely available to people through online courses. Online qualifications as high as degrees and masters courses are becoming increasing common. So students can now actually learn while sat in bed eating pizza (don’t hate me, I was a student and I’d have given anything to be able to do this). Do I hear you not agreeing with me? Only technology has achieved this? PIFFLE. Absolute piffle. In this day and age, personalised learning experiences are what people are looking for. Nobody wants to be sent daily PowerPoint presentations. People want to be sent book ideas on subjects they may have asked their tutor for clarification on and also have learning portals that they can make their own. Think calendars, textbook recommendations, journal recommendations or even statistics to show you what time you’re most productive at (based on your past productivity). It goes far beyond what emails can do and this is thanks to data.

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Sports

The majority of people have a favourite sport, and with e-sports becoming more and more popular, the audience is ever expanding. Big data plays a large part in developing strategies and counter strategies. It’s not just names and personal details, but timings, techniques, players and so much more. Without data, a simple strategy can only go so far. Few people connect the thought of data collected by companies of people sat behind computers with top class athletes in a variety of disciplines, but they harmonise so nicely together and takes the sporting world up a level to include planning at the finest level.

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PLAYDOH, GUESS WHO? AND DATA PROFILING

Everyone has played the game, Guess Who? If you haven’t, A) where have you been? B) Definitely go and play it.
Basically, you pick a person off your board, as does your competitor off theirs. You then proceed to ask questions to race against each other to find out who they have picked. Riveting stuff.
Anyway, all these questions you are asking are actually profiling the person they have chosen. Do they wear glasses? Yes. Do they have curly hair? No. This game may be based purely on looks, but it is profiling all the same – you can still glean information from people’s style.

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The more information you weedle out of your competitor, the faster you can identify the person. It’s the same with data, the more information that you have on a person or a company (yes you can definitely profile companies!), the more targeted communications you can perform. In Guess Who? you wouldn’t sit there quietly, not asking about the person and it’s the same principal at work. What use are your campaigns if you don’t actually know your clients?
Data profiling can certainly add a fair bit of value to your database, however you need to ensure that the information you do attribute to a lead is correct otherwise you’ll be assuming all kinds of nonsense.
So if someone is buying maternity wear, you can use this data to schedule a promotion in a few months time for baby clothes and nappies and all that goes in the world of babies. Or maybe someone buys a noticeably large amount of ice cream every year at the start of summer – perhaps give them a discount next year?
Or perhaps you want to target shoe companies within a certain geographical area with a revenue over £1.2 million with your revolutionary sock design. Businesses too are clients so of course can be profiled and segmented.
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Supermarkets use profiling exceedingly well. I know I’m constantly bombarded with coupons for all my favourite foods and I always used to think I was so lucky that the food I love always seems to have a coupon, but low and behold this was profiling at its finest and not the planets aligning for me. Sigh, one day.
Birthdays. A great way to promote yourself as caring and lovely by wishing someone a happy birthday – plus with all the extra birthday money that they have they’re probably more inclined to spend a few extra pounds here and there. It always confuses me when birthday offers end on someone’s birthday – the après birthday shop is where the money is at!
By enhancing your database with extra details about each person you can analyse the data as a whole and identify crucial market segments to improve marketing campaigns. You can fire out emails to people with a certain job in a certain industry, or target people with a specific hobby who are also in a particular wealth bracket. Information-rich data is like playdoh, you can mould it and shape it exactly how you want to use it and the benefits will be seen so rapidly, you’ll wonder why you never profiled in the first place.

SPRING CLEAN YOUR DATABASE… THROUGHOUT THE YEAR

Organisation is only achieved when things in your life are tidy and maintained. Imagine an untidy car, an untidy house with all paper work and bills mixed in a draw, a mixture of children toys, money and house keys. Surely, before long things will get out of hand, bills will be overdue, things of value will get lost and you may end up having long conversation to the bank to order new bank cards. So, where does having a clean database come in and how does this benefit you?
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Marketers understand the benefit of having clean and accurate data, data that is easily accessible and standardized to be used in successful marketing campaigns. With information firstly being captured incorrectly and entered with no order in a CRM system can prove costly when coming to use it. Questions will be asked “do the people still exist, are they still at the same address, how many times have they enquired and been added into the system?” A marketing campaign will just not work effectively if data isn’t clean and organised.
Direct mail campaigns, one of the most proven and successful ways to engage with your client base effectively, that is of course assuming the message will reach the targeted audience? Sending out thousands of pieces of direct mail to contacts without cleansing the data prior to a direct mail campaign, is a sure way to say good bye to any possible return on investment.
Data screening allows you to view the quality of your data but also highlight the areas where it needs to be improved. For a direct mail campaign to be effective, efforts need to be made to eliminate persons who are deceased or goneaway out of the database and ensure the addresses are standardised into a correct format. If this is not the case, your brand image is at stake by knowingly sending out mail to a party that is deceased, or paying the price for the mail to be return to you. By having a duplicate amount of records within the database will only mean the same piece of mail will be sent twice to the one person it was intended for, doubling your costs.
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Email validation is an essential tool to ensure your companies servers are protected and you’re not known as a ‘spammer’. If to many hard bounces are recorded, large email platforms will refuse to deal with your data, leaving you to take a massive risk by sending the data out yourselves. By using a live address validation tool will accurately test the email mailboxes to give a view whether the email address is live or not. By doing so will save both time and money by protecting yourself and keeping your brand image intact.
Not only direct mail and email campaigns can benefit from data cleansing, imagine a call centre calling incorrect numbers and deadlines all day? Not only would this be a waste of time but it would also lead to complaints if the number was not registered to the intended party. Telephone validation allows all numbers to be validated live that ensures a higher contact rate, saves operator time, more effective calling campaigns, this increases return on investment.

THE MARKETER, THE SALESPERSON AND THE GOLDEN THREAD

The sales department and the marketing department. Forever having back and forth conversations about ‘Ask them how they’ve heard of us!!!!’ and ‘You forgot to tell us about this promotion!!!’. You get the jist, it’s a fiery relationship between two very strong departments.

So what do you do when two things become separated? You stick them back together. Not with any old adhesive however – these two powerful teams need to be stitched with a thread of golden data. Intertwine them together in a sea of harmony and understanding. Well good data will make it work anyway, bad data will most likely create world war three so let’s not go there.
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What does good quality data mean for sales?

Marketing generates the leads that sales finalise and close. Using data solutions means that the data from the leads is of the highest quality – saving time and money in the sales department. So, for example, if marketing implements data validation into their lead capture – only correct details will be input into the CRM system making the sales team’s lives much easier as they’re not faffing around with incorrect numbers or names, or trying to call companies that never existed.

Or, a good old data cleanse by marketing can really sort out a naff database. Think back to when you were younger and you bought a new pencil case and stationary for school; all your pens would be in one section, as would your pencils, colouring pens etc. This is how the database would be: organised without duplicates, incomplete records or incorrect, outdated records. Again, when the sales team come to contact leads, they’ll be presented with a beautiful database and can be sure they’re contacting the right person. If that’s not a way of making friends then I really don’t know what is.

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Debbie Sweeney, ISMM Sales and Management trainer & Course Designer at Solutions2Success said “Regardless of what system you use to manage your customer information you need to ensure it is accurate and up to date before you conduct any marketing or sales activity. When making sales calls, or sending sales related emails to prospects or existing customers you need to ensure you follow the 3 R’s rule. Right time, right person and right message. This will ensure you have greater success with your sales activities and enhance your sales result. Working with inaccurate customer data not only makes you look and feel unprofessional it can also de-motivate you because you know you are wasting time or getting negative responses from the people you call’’

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Okay, so how does this benefit marketing?

A tidy CRM which the sales team constantly updates with further information about clients can lead marketing to be able to perform detailed analysis. This gains deeper customer insights and nurture potential customers with informative, personalised campaigns relevant to the client.

Sales can input information that influences marketing’s campaigns and determine which previous campaigns have been most successful and which could really do with improving. Of course in turn, improved campaigns will generate more accurate leads (as with the data solutions there’ll be no more dodgy leads captured) which are then passed on to sales to complete. Round and round this process goes with each department helping out the other. Now how’s that for a business utopia?

Emmy Lippold, Marketing Manager at Data8 said Emmy Lippold, Head of Marketing at Data8 said “the relationship between sales and marketing is critical to the organisation’s overall success. Having good quality data in CRM and marketing automation systems not only helps with personalised and accurate communications but also in making important business decisions.”

So. There’s a small insight into the sales and marketing utopia that many businesses struggle to create and utilise correctly. Remember that both teams share a common goal (£££) and need to work together to achieve it. It all sounds like a very inspirational presidential speech – “we must unite, not as people…but as a nation!” Bla bla bla. But to be honest, you’ll be thanking me later when you see the results.

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Solutions2Success specialise in providing training for businesses that sell product, services and solutions to businesses in the UK or globally.  The courses range from one day programmes to longer term programmes, both with fully qualified sales trainers.

SANTA’S MAKING HIS LIST, HE’LL BE CHECKING IT TWICE IF HE DOESN’T CLEANSE HIS DATABASE

It was that one Christmas, we all remember it.
We didn’t get the present we wanted. It wasn’t just a bit wrong, it was so totally NOT what we had written on our little lists that we couldn’t comprehend where Santa has rustled this alien present idea from. Yes, it would have been something that we could have liked last year maybe, but we were so much older and more mature now that there’s no way we could take that present to school and show it off.
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You see, dear Santa obviously hadn’t cleansed his database. Had he done this, he would have known that your profile had changed and he wouldn’t have gotten you mixed up with the kid next door who was a year younger than you.
So we’ve hit the nail on the head – the low quality database that Santa has, has ruined Christmas. Not only has a young child been left with a toy they don’t want or need, they now are hating on dear old Santa who was only trying to do his job. And what do kids do? They tell their friends.
“What did you get for Christmas?”
“Well Santa didn’t understand what I wanted and got me what I wanted last year! He’s so outdated!”
You see how this is going right? Santa’s reputation is slowly being chipped away, he’s leaving a bad taste and the kids aren’t afraid to let people know.
It could be a case of you receiving what you wanted the year prior, or if you moved house – maybe the gift went there? Or maybe he spelled the address wrong and it’s just in a different country altogether, or what if that kid nearby with the same name as you had received it? Either way, Santa should really get with the times and cleanse his database because that Christmas was a total write off.
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He could start with contact and address cleansing. Any wishlists he receives should be checked against the PAF database (/ the database relevant database to that country) and he can ensure he corrects misspelled addresses and postcodes and keep all the addresses standardised and in the correct format.
Then, Santa can perform de-duplications. He can identify people with the same name as he can differentiate them based on their other details. For those that have moved, he’s doing a goneaway suppression to find out the families that have moved away so he doesn’t keep sending their presents to that address.
Finally, his database should be profiled. Demographically. He can then identify crucial market segments and from that perform analysis on what’s cool one year and what’s not so trendy.
I think you already know where I’m going with this. The Santas of the adult world are businesses and shops and without a cleansed database, they can really gain a bad reputation whether it’s Christmas or not. The best thing to do would be to validate details at point of entry, but many companies need their databases cleansed also as too many bogus entries have slipped through the net. It’s an easy fix and definitely something that is not worth losing reputation points over. So don’t be a bad Santa – it’ll get you a frosty reputation and that’s snow laughing matter as you don’t want the Claus coming out this Christmas.