How data analytics can turn the art of the sale into a masterpiece

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By Matt Jones

Big data is changing the world around us. Companies around the world are flocking to collect and analyse the data they store with a variety of aims, from understanding their customers better, to improving healthcare products, to even making Disney that little bit more magic.

When people think of big data, or data analytics for that matter, they tend to think of the likes of Amazon and Google – digital companies with huge data sets which are utilised to better target a product, or optimise a service, across a huge customer base.

However, it is not only digital companies that are making the most of the big data revolution. What people may consider as more traditional industries, such as healthcare, manufacturing and energy, are using data analytics to their advantage.

Unfortunately, many stories we hear about focus on how big digital companies have used vast amount of data to derive some insight into the interests of their customer. Because of the media attention on these big digitally focussed companies, many assume that marketing value is the only benefit companies get from having access to large pools of information.

But this is far from the truth. Businesses in every industry can do so much more with data.

If these companies want to derive business value from data, the challenge is finding where the business benefits lie in their information. This may be – a change indicating a problem that could shut down operations, a new material which improves the efficiency of a jet engine, the optimal way to transport water around a city or manage transport operations around the country.

For instance, if we look at sales, intelligently applying data analytics can transform the approach of sales teams across many industries.

To paint a picture of how this works in action, I’ll explain how we worked with AkzoNobel’s Marine Coatings business. We helped them to launch Intertrac Vision, a digital consultancy tool that can accurately predict fuel and CO2 savings from different fouling control coatings.

Intertrac Vision, which uses 3.5 billion data points, is the first ever tool for the shipping industry that accurately predicts the performance of coating technologies before they have even been applied to the hull of a ship. It recently won the Big Data and Analytics Project of the Yearcategory at the 2016 UK IT Industry Awards.

It is transformational because it brings the focus onto understanding the real world benefits of the product being sold – which in this case includes the environmental value that can be achieved, as well as cost impact – and the analysis can be applied afresh for each individual sale.

Research into consumer sales has found that one in three people have abandoned a purchase because they could not find the information they need. And a lack of information is no less damaging the world of business to business sales. But by utilising data analytics, sales teams have the tools to provide intelligent, tailor-made pitches and can leverage a wealth of information to close that all important deal.

 Matt Jones is Lead Analytics Strategist at Tessella, Altran’s World Class Center for Analytics