By Henry Crawford
Published: 10th June 2020

The Modern Data Strategy: Winning in the Next Normal

Henry is a Director of Redkite, the leading data change consultancy, and was formerly Head of Data & BI at Deliveroo, where he used data to drive Deliveroo’s 650%+ p.a. hypergrowth. 

Connect with Henry today by joining Redkite’s next live data strategy seminar, or contact him directly at [email protected].

As the world emerges from one of the most profound global events of modern time, how do organisations move from surviving 2020 to winning in the Next Normal?

Five years ago, I set out a vision for Deliveroo to be the most data-driven company in the UK. Our strategy was to use data to provide the very best possible service for customers, riders and restaurants. As Head of Data & Business Intelligence, I witnessed the reshaping of human experiences through prevailing megatrends: the emergence of the smartphone and always-on data; heightened expectations for single-click and immediacy; and analogue business models making the digital leap through last-mile tablet technology.

As a Director at Redkite, the leading data change partner to enterprise and hyper-growth, I now spend my time helping the UK’s most ambitious data, analytics and business change teams to achieve their potential. 

2020 has unveiled the Next Normal and, a few months in, we are now glimpsing the new megatrends that are poised to be as transformative in the 2020s as those we witnessed over the past decade.

Here is my take on how to seize the opportunity and win in the Next Normal. 

#1. Every customer is a human

The closure of bricks-and-mortar stores has driven a discontinuous shift into digital channels: e-commerce, apps, video and social. Every retailer and consumer services company I speak with is experiencing a similar pattern.

“Digital customer engagement and sales are up significantly

FTSE 250 Retail CEO

Everything we see tells us that human behaviour is being rewired permanently via the neurological process of synaptic strengthening.

Each and every customer deserves to be treated as a human. Yet the channel shift to digital represents a threat to the many firms that are not capturing an end-of-end view of omnichannel customer behaviour, and so cannot tailor customer interactions and create empathic customer experiences. As The Harris Poll research demonstrates, 63% of consumers expect personalization as a standard of service – yet few brands are achieving this consistently across all touchpoints.

Personalised customer experiences can be readily achieved through modern customer data platform (CDP) technology such as Microsoft Customer Insights, equipped with AI-powered next-best-action customer decisioning engines. We are seeing profound revenue, lifetime value (LTV) and margin benefits to those enterprise and hypergrowth companies that embrace true personalisation.  

In part, the benefits arise because the Next Normal is impacting customers in very different ways.  As one Transformation Director remarks, “Our understanding of the customer has flipped entirely – known behaviour is changing rapidly”.  Fractures are emerging between the in-work and the retired; the knowledge workers and the front-line; and the asset owners and experience renters. Each and every customer deserves to be understood and interacted with as an individual.

#2. Volatility is the new constant

Bricks-and-mortar to e-commerce; on-trade to off-trade; in-person to remote. With most businesses facing a scrambling of their supply chains and routes-to-market, there is an urgent need to understand product movement all the way through from raw material supplier to the ultimate consumer. 

One consumer products company counted over a dozen strategic business priorities blocked on this visibility – all the way through from consumer demand forecasting, customer planning and trade investment optimisation; to key accounts management, availability, inventory optimisation and net revenue management. 

The CFOs we speak with are expecting volatility to be a characteristic of the Next Normal. Indeed, leading CFOs embrace volatility as a source of competitive advantage: those that stand to gain are the companies that have created end-to-end visibility of their supply chain and route-to-market; that have shifted from make-to-stock to make-to-order; and that are equipped to redeploy budgets, inventory and focus towards the emergent sources of value.

#3. Execution at the speed of thought

In my time at Deliveroo, we saw dizzying growth: revenues at 650%+ p.a., expansion into dozens of new cities each quarter, and the onboarding of a wave of talent, globally. All of this was possible only because we embraced automation at every step.

Automation unlocks a compound benefit through lower operating costs, heightened data quality, reduced management burden and faster cycle times. The winners in the Next Normal are those that shun business process outsourcing in favour of true business process automation – and so realise the unbeatable, multiplicative competitive advantage of strongest agility, quality and understanding at lowest possible cost.

The future, today.

In some respects, the megatrends shaping the Next Normal are not profoundly different from those of the recent past. What’s different is the velocity of change: The clock speed of business has sped up 10x, and we are now seeing executive teams bring forward their medium-term roadmaps at an unprecedented pace.

Subscription models. Personalisation. Next best action. Direct to consumer. Automation. Demand sensing. End-to-end planning. Make to order. Manufacturing execution. Control Towers… Digitalisation is now more important than ever and is enabling market leaders to move from surviving 2020 to winning in the Next Normal.

What to do Next

Whoever you are, a modern data strategy will enable you to identify the business opportunities created by the Next Normal, the priority data and analytics assets that you will want to put in place, and the data operating model and roadmap that will unlock them. To find out more, register to attend the Data Strategy 101 hosted by Henry Crawford and Kunal Gupta.

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