Challenges in Operationalizing Big Data

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By Sandeep Sharma, Managing Director, NICE South Asia & Middle East

Recently the Chief Data Officer at Barclays, Usama Fayyad, spoke at the Customer Analytics, Insights and Experience Forum in London.  During his presentation, he highlighted that every customer interaction is an opportunity for an organization to learn.

customers are using more and more channels, that provide a treasure trove of insights. So why don’t more organizations succeed in turning that raw material into valuable, data-driven decisions and business value?

The Freshness of the Data

Your customer, your competitors and your market are moving quickly, but is your data keeping pace?  If you are not able to see your data in real time, then you may be making key business decisions on
yesterday’s news.

Often organizations take months to get a snapshot of what happened last quarter.  By then, the ball has moved and it reduces the urgency and ability of the organization to act.  Make sure that the data is being acted on is as current as possible.  Real time is the new normal.

Data that Doesn’t Paint a Picture

Once you have fresh data, you need to ensure that it tells a story.  If you can’t visualize the story that the data is telling, it is hard to make decisions from it.  For example, all the data was collected for a telco about the types of journeys their customers were taking i.e. survey, web, SMS, interactive voice response – a self service. It was observed that the various ways they were offering support were not being adopted. In fact, less than 20 percent tried another channel instead they went direct to the most expensive channel—their contact center, instead of self service channels. With this visualization, multiple data sources are consolidated into one view. That makes it easier to turn your data into information, an information that can inform strategy.

Data That Can’t Be Shared

In the example mentioned above, you could clearly visualize the story. Customers weren’t using the lower cost and self-service channels. However, in the reality of organizations, those channels fall under
different departments.

For this telco to take action, they need the leaders responsible for the website, the voice of the customer program, the social media team and the contact center to be aligned. Therefore, this single source of the truth, needs to be shared through the organization.  Moreover, it needs to be able to be shared in ways that each department can drill down into.

The contact center manager can take the above mentioned data and drill in deeper to things they actually impact. What she may do is formulate an IVR Journey Change Plan that includes a six step process. Step one is the Greeting Menu and Language Selection which is then followed by a series of options like SIM activation, technical support, international inquiries or bill inquiries or change plan. As observed by her, most of the calls coming to the IVR were about plan changes. The final step would include a SMS sent to the phone for confirmation and phone identification to confirm the changed plan. Now she can share that information with the other teams to ensure that they have a clear journey for customers who want to change plans.

The Execution Gap

Finally the data uncovered has to inform strategy.  One of the biggest challenges organizations have is around alignment. By having data that can be shared and explored at the departmental level you go a long way to alignment.  However, that is no substitute for making sure that you have a crisp, clearly articulated plan around the actions each team is taking. Once you have a strategy and a plan, you need to make people accountable. Data for data’s sake doesn’t grow businesses.  Teams executing on that data does.  If you can tie the insights you’ve gained back to employee performance, you have closed the loop. That way you know if you have properly trained employees on the decision or strategy or if they might need coaching.


In today’s dynamic business environment, you have to make data-driven decisions to win. Therefore, you need to make sure that you have the freshest data possible. Then you want to be able to visualize the vast amount of information you are collecting and share it through your organization.  Next, you want to make sure each team has a view of their data that they can act on.  To close the loop, tie the data back to employee performance and interactions.  From there, you have another customer interaction that gives you an opportunity to uncover more insights.

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