Now more than ever, data has become paramount. Every organisation, no matter the size, needs to generate timely insights to achieve its business objectives. Those that utilise and act on this information can gain a competitive advantage, tailoring offerings according to customer data to get ahead of the game.

According to a forecast by Forrester, insights-driven companies are projected to earn US$1.8 trillion by 2021 and grow at least seven times faster than the global GDP. Today, with the advent of the cloud and new and emerging technologies that allow firms to accumulate and analyse big data efficiently, companies that are not fostering a cadre of data-savvy employees are not only at a disadvantage. Simply put, they are not going to survive.

But survival does not only rest on the shoulders of a company’s engineers, data analysts and scientists. It is a responsibility shared with every member of the organisation, including creatives, writers and facility managers. With insights from data at the heart of every business decision, top-to-bottom integration of data must be embedded in the very culture of an organisation. All employees must think like data scientists. And companies have to equip them with the right tools, knowledge and support to build a data-centric environment that they can keep learning from, and allows them to experiment.

How we are doing it

At gojek, we have been reaping the benefits of being a data-driven business since day one. We grew along this axis by storing, organising, and utilising our data to power our growth and improve our apps. We have integrated automation, and are leveraging tools and emerging technologies to ensure easy access to data in a centralised, organised manner that enable us to make informed decisions. A decade –and counting– of harnessing the potential of data has led us to adopt a unique approach to wielding it that is built on three key principles.

First, we analyse. After gathering a wealth of information from different data sources, almost daunting in its magnitude, we need to make sense of the data. Uncovering insights then will enable us to make critical business and product decisions. It also helps us identify trends that will allow us to thrive in the future–or threaten to make us irrelevant. Second, we infuse our super app offerings with machine learning and AI to revolutionise the way we price, match, recommend, and even fight fraud on our platform, all in real-time. Then, finally, we go further and deeper than using data for problem-solving. We are futureproofing the business by making ambiguous decisions using automation and machine learning, among other statistical techniques, to tell us whether we should steer right or left.

While we have years of experience on our side, companies that have yet to make the leap can first take these initial but significant steps towards creating a data-driven environment.

Also Read: How this Tokyo-based startup is revolutionising the restaurant industry with AI and big data

Adopting a more data-centric mindset

  • Be obsessed with customer experience. 

The rise of the user is upon us –if not already here. What the user needs is influencing not just engineers’ thinking and priorities, but the whole organisation’s strategy in terms of what they can offer to each and every one of them. Every member of a company should anticipate customer needs, aiming to surprise and delight them through personalisation, as well as removing pain points. This ranges from designing personalised homepages to customising search and communication features.

For example, our marketing team has been using data to experiment with creative assets and design campaigns. They would display different marketing banners on the gojek platform to see which ones users most interacted with, and then adapt their initiatives to cater to what customers care most about. The team would also use data to distinguish food consumption behaviour –an activity they conducted to differentiate various districts in Ho Chi Minh City, so as to customise marketing communications for each district based on consumer patterns and preferences.

It is then all about encouraging employees–not just data scientists –to intimately know and meet every user’s need.

  • Invest to unearth data and crucial insights. 

All companies, regardless of the industry, should continually sharpen the tools at their disposal and incorporate new technologies to get additional useful insights from data. You can tap into emerging technologies such as machine learning (ML), biometrics, 5G, augmented reality, and AI/Robotics to improve the customer experience. These allow employees to have easier access to data and insights.

We have benefitted from investing in this tech ourselves. For instance, customer feedback is one of the most important sources of information a company should capitalise on. But a constant challenge has always been its unstructured text format and how it tends to focus on a particular side of the business. So we developed natural language processing tools to gather and provide an understanding of our users’ or driver-partners’ main concerns via various channels, ranging from customer care platforms to app reviews. Listening carefully using various machine learning techniques enables us to disseminate feedback to multiple and the correct businesses and product teams in a structured and systematic manner. It also enables us to detect new issues being raised by users, as well as monitor the improvement on frequently-encountered issues.

We also use machine learning to power the search experience. One of our ML models understands the customer’s intent. This allows us to look at a customer’s past transactions, behaviour, preferences, location, time of day and various other signals to delight them with a great, customised experience that reduces the time it takes for them to find a cuisine, restaurant, or dish.

Also Read: WhatsApp takes a U-turn in its data privacy. Is it time to switch to alternative platforms?

  • Build a data-centric culture that starts and ends with the right people. 

All the tech and tools in the world are no good without the right team to spearhead it. Hire the right people across all departments, with the mindset to learn and appreciate data for what it can give. Train, encourage, and empower all employees to utilise technology to gain insights from data and make decisions backed by data.

The adoption of a data-driven culture will be a long and steady learning process for everyone, so let employees experiment and even fail, to gain the lessons that will allow them to progress. After all, data is always intimidating at first. But once you take the time to know it, organisations, their employees and customers, can reap the rewards.

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