"Market of one" is a term that is used regularly when describing how big data enables companies to go beyond simple segmentation approaches and instead tune their responses to specific individuals. The first phase of this was around digital advertising and its ability to market specific products to individuals. The new generation, however, is about how companies establish long-running conversations that continually deliver value.
What does that mean? Well it means that analytics needs to move beyond the "next best action" toward something that balances the business's objectives with the customer's desires. Here's an example: Imagine a customer who is looking for a replacement phone, her contract is not yet up, so she is not yet eligible for the upgrade. A next-best-action approach might suggest alternatives such as a new contract, a contract buyout or something similar. In short, something that will result in the best "close" available at that point in time.
While this is OK, it doesn't balance the conversation. The conversation could address questions such as these: Where do you want to get to? Does this person have TV through the company? Do you want her to take insurance or other data products? Is she a high-value customer? Is she the key customer in a network of customers?
The next generation of analytics aims to map out the conversations to determine the most profitable long-term actions that ensure the customer (if profitable) remains loyal, and is aware of the balancing costs of customer acquisition, retention and profitability. I've seen these shifts at an industry level as well. For example, within retail as merchants use big data to help one-to-one marketing become a reality for the always-on shopper.
This shift toward analytics driving conversations is what I term "insight-out," and it represents the third evolution in digital interactions between customers and businesses. Here's how that evolution progressed:
- First came transactional systems with fixed processes linked to specific channels.
- Second came omnichannel, which enabled customers to leap from channel to channel as they wished.
- Third comes insight-out, where the behaviors of the customer are balanced against the long-term objectives of the company to sustain a long-term relationship.
- Insight-out is a new way of thinking about analytics, it goes beyond just "insight at the point of action" and evolves into a series of interactions, each guided by insight with a sustaining intelligence that seeks to marshal the whole conversation.
Insight-out gives companies the ability to guide, and even control, the conversations with their customers. In a subsequent blog post, I'll talk more about the technologies behind this approach and what companies need to do to enable it.