Using your data for strategic decision-making

Much has already been written about how online companies can use their masses of customer behaviour data to achieve increasingly accurate ‘segment of one’ personalisation – but while some companies are just getting in on this ‘micro’ angle of using customer data, others are reaping the benefits of also looking at the ‘macro’ angle.

Case in point: Netflix is transforming the way TV is not just consumed, but created. The disruptive video streaming company is expanding beyond merely delivering existing material, it’s getting into funding original content. Its showcase production is ‘House of Cards’, a remake of the 1990 British political drama. The way old school broadcast TV works is that people pitch ideas, they attach names to the project, they make a pilot, they punt it around to see what people think, sometimes they actually air it to see how it goes down – then they make a judgement call on whether the series is worth investing in. It’s all very subjective.

Netflix put down $100m for House of Cards without seeing a single scene.

How was it so confident it would succeed? Simple: it had the data that identified not just how many people like watching Kevin Spacey, admire the work of director David Fincher and enjoyed the original Brit version of House of Cards – but the correlation between these three. So the data said: a remake of House of Cards, starring Spacey, directed by Fincher = a nailed on hit.

Digital delivery companies like Netflix know not just what you’re consuming, but exactly how you’re consuming it. When you pause, rewind and fast-forward; how many episodes you watch in a row; what time of day or night. And they could start using this data to influence not just what gets commissioned, but the content itself. Imagine the possibilities… too many viewers pause at the same point: is there a lull in the action, do we need to make it more pacy? lots of rewinding of key scenes: is the plot too complicated, do we need clearer exposition?

But what does this all mean to you? We’re not all disruptive entertainment upstarts. Well, for a start:

  • Think about what customer behaviour data you already track; if you transact online, there’s an inherent data trail
  • Store it, even if you don’t know what you’re going to use it for yet
  • Then think big; when faced with strategic decisions, don’t just go on instinct – use the data you’ve already gathered from your customers

They’re telling you what they like, what they want, what they need – you just need to be able to interpret it from the data. And we’ve never had more customer behaviour data and more data processing power.

What are you going to do with it?

Sophie Fraser