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How IKEA, British Airways tie insights to outcomes

The excerpt below is part five from the Economist Intelligence Unit report, Outside Looking In: The CMO Struggles to Get in Sync with the C-Suite.

Creating effective cross-channel integration requires CMOs to break down the silos that exist between functional groups within many organizations. If marketing can provide a more comprehensive view of how a customer interacts with the business as a whole, it stands to gain more credibility and more influence in driving strategic change.

At IKEA, for example, the marketing team is using customer analytics to help shape the company’s strategic business plan. “The ability to share insights has become a large contributor to the marketing organization being able to drive and influence business decisions,” says Ms Green Sykes. “The business planning process is much more integrated than it was previously, and we are driving that integration.”

Previously, functional teams worked on their own parts of the strategic plan, then met to bring them together. “Sometimes they fit and sometimes they did not,” notes Ms Green Sykes. “What we realized is in order to make great strides, we all needed to be based off the same key objectives regardless of function or responsibility.”

The biggest challenge with this process, according to Ms Green Sykes, is ensuring that every group has visibility into the customer and market data that marketing is collecting. This is one area in which CMOs and their C-suite colleagues seem to agree: Both groups gave high marks to investing in customer relationship management (CRM) as a way for marketing to drive business value.  Respondents from across the C-suite also believe investing in customer analytics will be the most important contributor to the business in three years.

For all the talk about data-driven customer insight, marketers are just starting to understand how they should be using the growing repository of information they are collecting through digital media and other channels. “Marketing has only just begun to mine the universal behavioural insights that exist about customers,” says John McDonald, vice-president (VP) of marketing for theAmericasat British Airways (BA).

BA is taking its own steps towards mining customer insights through its Know Me program. Launched in February 2012, Know Me is a company-wide effort to enhance the customer experience through deep insights about existing customers’ preferences and behaviours. The airline has spent the better part of the past decade integrating its systems to support the effort; a data warehouse now stores 200 separate data sources from different parts of the business to provide a more granular view of the customer, based on the information they have volunteered. As important are the tools that provide staff – from gate agents to cabin crews – with access to the information in order to personalize customer experiences.

“We’re bringing together a single customer view so that every part of the business can recognize the individual and cater to his or her specific needs,” says Mr McDonald. “Translating insight about customer behaviour into commercial opportunity is massively important.”

These types of investments are critical to helping marketers demonstrate how data-driven insights create value for the business. The marketing team at IKEA, for example, has used consumer insights to open new doors of collaboration with the company’s sales, product development, logistics and other teams.

“Three years ago, we were very inward-focused,” notes Ms Green Sykes. “When we started looking at things from the consumer perspective, there wasn’t a strong commitment at first. But when we started showing how we could take these insights, translate them into strategies and then measure the impact from a sales growth or store visit impact, we started getting much more alignment.”

See the full report on the EIU site: Outside Looking In: The CMO Struggles to Get in Sync with the C-Suite

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