5 CEO Principles for Developing an Applied Analytics Strategy

Image: Hunter Haley

As both topics of AI and Facebook data usage gain greater attention from the media, customers, investors, and regulators, it’s time for CEOs to get deeply engaged in an Applied Analytics Strategy. So what is an Applied Analytics Strategy? Applied analytics is about the strategic use of data for decisions within a given environment. In this case, business, marketing, and sales decisions. Yet, too many C-level execs are abdicating major strategic decisions to their data scientists, data vendors, and software suppliers. Claiming “lack of expertise” in applied analytics is no longer an acceptable position. CEOs and their leadership teams must roll up their sleeves and get engaged.

5 basic principles CEOs must embrace:

1) Deep customer data analytics is a competitive requirement.

Yes, CEOs need to be very concerned about customer privacy, but leading competitors (particularly cloud-based start-ups) are pushing the envelope on predictive and AI applications to better target and serve your customers.

2) Customers expect you to know them better.

Underneath privacy concerns, there is still a growing customer expectation that you have the data on hand to understand customer interests, and ethically and productively sell and service them better. Amazon, NetFlix, Google, etc. are conditioning consumers (and therefore B2B buyers) to expect more targeted content and tailored solutions based on their data profile.

3) Don’t let your strategy be driven by data and software vendors.

Too often I see mid-level executives absent from a top-down applied analytics strategy. This includes spending on what vendors want to sell them vs. what they need. With everything moving to the cloud, data and software vendor overload may actually be taking your business backward. The 80/20 rule (20 percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your results) applies to both data and software.

4) Reverse engineer your data and Applied Analytics Strategy.

Rather than buying what vendors promise, talk to your front-line marketing, sales, customer service, and operations executives to determine what they need to succeed. For example, your sales team needs three basic questions answered by Applied Analytics: a) whom should we target b) what product(s) and messaging should we use for these unique prospects c) how should they be engaged (face to face, phone, email, website, etc.)?

5) You already own a data gold mine.

The most powerful data is already inside your internal systems. Unfortunately, this data is often siloed; either physically or politically. Specific data on existing customers and their patterns is within reach. Using that information, you can make assumptions for new customers. There is so much powerful data in your existing systems; CRM, purchase history, customer service inquiries, product usage (including IoT), website downloads, and/or social media dialogue that can be used.

CEOs and their leadership team can no longer defer their Applied Analytics Strategy to just the “analytics experts” alone. Get engaged, get knowledgeable, and make smarter investments.