For marketers and data-driven business people, Big Data is often viewed as a way to go deeper…to apply more data volume to the problems we’ve been dealing with, adding social data or other variety to areas we’ve investigated before, or enabling faster turnaround, velocity, to accelerate outcomes. But the bigger opportunities may be in the area of a 4th “V”, addressing new venues for business benefit of analytics.
The attention to Big Data—considered hype by data veterans—has created a receptive and interested group of previous outsiders who are eager to embrace the promise of Big Data. They are coming to the party excited and ready to move forward–unjaded by the fabled data quality issues, undaunted by the reported length of the analytical cycle, nor discouraged by eye-glazing reports and presentations. They see a new and vibrant opportunity to inform and expand their strategies and invigorate their business with customer insight. They are the new consumers of the analysis, new customers to the analysts, and are helping to change the landscape of analytics work and bringing new life and meaning to being data-driven.
Like many companies, we at SAP have wrung much value out of insights deployed to marketing: managing the marketing mix, finding the right customers, improving the experience and creating engagement. But new areas have emerged that we had not served or foresaw through our traditional marketing analytics work – customer events, where SAP engages directly with our customers and showcases software, is one such area.
Introducing insight-driven events
Events were outside of the traditional marketing work, with the exception of typical campaign ROI measurement; somehow, not viewed as an area that could benefit by analytic approaches that governed campaigns and digital tactics, perhaps due to the open-ended nature and limited ability to understand activities and outcomes that occur outside of a “measurable” channel or activity. There were, however, a welcoming, eager, and forward-looking group of individuals on the events team who asked, “Why not?” And we couldn’t agree more.
Beginning about 3 years ago, SAP began a journey that we referred to as “Insight-Driven Events,” adding more analytic approaches, tools and outcomes each year until we had an end-to-end approach (from pre-event through post-event) with depth and layers of insight that look at the event composition and content, as well as attendee experience and the trajectory of outcomes.
Having crossed the imaginary barrier that separated events from other marketing analytic activity, it was easy to see that events provided a vibrant hive of intensified, concentrated, and magnified marketing activity, beginning with identification of the right attendees (targeting, interest, buyers journey stages), engagement…new immersion in the experience (content, networking, meetings, etc.), outcomes and follow-up (solution interest, intent to purchase, etc.). Include an overlay of social media activity to punctuate and amplify interest, a laboratory to see (and hear!) directly the linkage between customer intent and follow-through, and a mechanism that connects marketing to sales and operations through the common currency of analytics, and we have a powerful fulcrum for fast learning and recycling insights back into business strategy and execution.
Connect marketing to sales and operations through the common currency of analytics
Through partnership with a client that is eager to see and hear “what the event is telling us,” we have expanded this model each year, and have together moved to understanding individuals and audiences attending, not merely attending companies. Timing…and timeliness…of insight delivery is key to having this happen. Insights are required in time for planning cycles (which are close to a year in advance) and delivered in a way that is consumable, tied to business strategies and key objectives, and easily understood in context of the event…in short, the insights weave into the events process, not the other way around.
Lessons being learned through this program are being applied to other pockets of analytic development and encourage more expansive analytical thinking:
- Think beyond known or traditional borders of the work…find new venues
- Intertwine analytics within a focused business process or in-motion activity
- Recognize and encourage taking novel and different approaches linked to clear business strategies and needs (i.e. understanding attendee experience and event-attending personas)
- Combining analytic modes and methods to have a cumulative effect when focused directly onto a clear topic (i.e. insights from surveys, focus groups, scanner data and sensor readings to understand areas of value and interest within the event)
- Find sponsors who are champions, advocates and analytical optimists, excited about the possibilities and opportunities, and eager to glean the benefits.
The Insight-Driven Events program results have spoken for themselves. Insights have informed strategic changes to the portfolio of customer events undertaken, have improved direct event ROI, and have influenced changes to the event operation and attendee experience. It has become clear, that to have continuous improvement to customer events at SAP–which are already achieving at a high level–analytics is a critical tool in identifying those areas of incremental benefit.
Open minds and imaginations to new venues that big data can benefit
While we have seen obvious and direct benefit from applying analytics to events, we have had an equally impactful, and perhaps longer-term, benefit of opening our minds and imaginations to new venues, where insights from big data are influencing and directing new found opportunities for business impact.
Have you found your new venue for analytically-driven business success?
SAP’s Insight-Driven Events has been selected winner of the 2015 ANA Analytic Genius Award.
Follow me on Twitter – @kendemma.
This blog originally published on SCN and has been republished with permission.