It seems that no matter where you go or who you speak to these days – everyone is talking about data. In particular, “Big Data.”

It’s without doubt one of the so-called “buzz words.” If you bring it up in just about any conversation you are almost guaranteed to get an immediate response and reaction. In essence, big data is all about using all the data at your disposal to gain more understanding, insight and intelligence on your customers. The result being some actionable insight that allows you to target customers with more personalized and relevant offers. This will essentially increase their propensity to purchase and deliver a better overall customer experience.

Makes complete sense right???

Of course, nobody can argue against this… it’s completely logical and something every organization in the world should be doing. But, it’s not the main issue that many organizations needs resolving.

The main issues that we see working across a range of industry sectors is the lack of control and inflexibility that many organizations have over their key distribution channels – in particular, online channels. Even with a great CRM or Big Data program in place that provides valuable and actionable insight, many organizations do not then have a flexible merchandising platform in place that allows them to do something with this data and insight.

If you take the travel industry as an example, airlines are notoriously constricted when it comes to their IT and merchandising platforms with complex old legacy systems, third party suppliers and global distribution platforms… not to mention the usual IT resource constraints. Many airlines have very little control over their merchandising and getting the simplest of changes made can often take months or even years!

Big Data is like giving someone a Ferrari but with no wheels… It’s an amazing car but would be completely useless because you can’t drive it from A to B.

In order to truly unlock the financial benefit from CRM and Big Data programs, organizations need to invest in a merchandising platform that provides them with the ability to act upon the insights and intelligence they gain. Ultimately, this is all about using data in real-time to deliver personalized and relevant offers to the right customer, at the right time, through the right channel and in the right way.

Airlines and other organizations across other industry sectors need to invest in developing more flexible and intelligent merchandising platforms. This should include tools and capabilities that allow them to do something with the data they capture in real-time. This involves capturing data, developing customer segments and profiles, and using propensity models with predictive analytics to then deliver a more relevant and personalized offer at the exact point of interaction.

So before you invest heavily in a CRM or Big Data program, ask yourself something first… do you have a flexible merchandising platform in place? If not, you need to develop one in order to truly realize the financial benefits from your Big Data program… otherwise you might just get a Ferrari with no wheels!