Companies must do a better job with data, says PwC partner

Companies must do a better job of joining together the different data they have on customers or risk “pissing away money retargeting”, according to PwC partner Matthew Tod.

He warned delegates at Abta’s Travel Convention in Slovenia: “Please don’t do Big Data, do customer intelligence. Join information together better to effect change. Hoover up social media data and add it together with customer purchasing data. You’ve got to make this customer data plugged in and connected. That’s the challenge at the moment.”

Tod said the world was about to enter “the second Age of Enlightenment”.

“The first one was discovering atoms, light, genes – that was all worked out with data. I think we’re in a similar place with data today.”

He said the affordability and accessibility of analytical technology was now at a level that anyone could use it.

“It would have cost millions of pounds years ago if you wanted access to this kind of consumer data, so not many people could afford it. But now, with something like Amazon Redshift, which is just $999 to store and process your data for a year, it means this is no longer something just for big companies. It’s for anyone who’s got data and wants to engage with it.”

But Tod warned that with the volume of data being collected every day, there was going to be a “worldwide shortage of people that can actually analyse it”.

“McKinsey has done a study which shows we’re going to be hundreds of thousands of people short,” he said, adding that those companies that currently have good data analysts should love them as they are extremely hard to replace.

Tod added that companies also needed to support their customers better by offering more in return for the data they collect, also pointing out that data collection was soon going to become harder by law.

“We aren’t building trust at the moment as we’re just using data for marketing purposes and not to properly support the customer. There’s got to be something in it for the customer for them to want to give you their data.”

He cited the Thomson Companion app which he said offers the customer a deal, but in return means it wants some value back.

“Thomson is starting to collect consumption data – starting to understand how much their customer is enjoying their holiday that it has sold them so it knows what to sell them next time.”

But he also warned there were going to be new rules brought in soon that will stop companies just surveying customers. “You’re going to have to persuade everyone to opt in.”

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