(From left) Michael Pascoe leads the forum with Jim Davis, Chris Caroll, Jodie Sangster, and Phil Gunter. Not pictured is Gautam Bose.

(From left) Michael Pascoe leads the forum with Jim Davis, Chris Caroll, Jodie Sangster, and Phil Gunter. Not pictured is Gautam Bose.

Yesterday was quite the information overload day for me. I spent the morning soaking in big data knowledge at the SAS Forum and the afternoon basking in marketing ideas at the ADMA Global Forum (more to come on that later). The overall takeaway from the morning was that big data is everywhere, but if you don’t harness its potential to better serve your customers, you’re just going to end up being overwhelmed. As SAS Managing Director ANZ David Bowie said, “If you can’t get value from it, big data is just big cost.”

Unsurprisingly, much of the programming at SAS Forum focused on how SAS can help you analyse your data to achieve the outcomes your business needs. But there were more big-picture gems abounded as well—particularly at the ADMA Executive Panel ‘Exploiting insight from customer experiences to transform your business’. In it, Chris Caroll of Medibank Australia, Gautam Bose of National Australia Bank, Jodie Sangster of ADMA, Phil Gunter of Virgin Australia, and Jim Davis of SAS discussed their insights into the use of data analytics for their individual organisations’ marketing efforts. Moderated by Michael Pascoe, the panel proved quite lively from the stage and audience alike.

Among the pearls from the session was Jodie’s assertion that it’s really all about the customer in the end, although companies seem to have lost sight of that fact recently. It’s important, she noted, to find that fine line between being relevant and being over-targeted to the point of ‘creepy’.

Michael Pascoe

MC for the day Michael Pascoe

Phil urged those in the room to keep it simple, saying data analytics are useful, but it can make you lose sight of common sense. “If it make sense on a whiteboard, it probably makes sense,” he said, adding that a story backed up by fact and data is the most powerful way to get your message across internally.

Jim urged marketing teams in the room to quantify their efforts in the context of their own organisations. “The best focus group,” he said, “is social media.” He added that it’s crucial to coordinate touchpoints for customers and organise messaging along customer lines rather than internal divisions that might seem arbitrary to outsiders.

A challenge all companies face, according to Chris, is in customer retention. It’s important to understand the customer’s needs before they decide to leave. He made a comparison to death by a thousand cuts, saying that he needs to know by cut 999 that a customer is thinking of leaving, before that last cut—maybe an unsatisfactory interaction with a call centre operator—causes them to sever ties with the company.