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Last week we hosted our first face-to-face breakfast seminar, which became a hybrid event so that people were also able to join remotely. It was great to be back “in real life” and to meet up with retail and related businesses to talk about the challenges that have been faced and the exciting possibilities of using the data already within businesses.
First up we heard from Andy Tudor, Clekt’s CEO, who reflected on the first 18 months of Clekt and the huge untapped potential for businesses to tap into and optimise their data to gain commercial value.
Andy said “We set up Clekt to leverage data more effectively and make the most of the opportunity to capture and leverage the operational data flowing around businesses, whilst also generating analytical insight. Previously the combination of the two didn’t exist, but through the Enterprise Data Hub platform we have brought these two things together – giving a single view of the truth.”
Andy shared some inspirational data insights;
“There were 5 exabytes of information created between the dawn of civilization through 2003, but that much information is now created every 2 days.”
— Eric Schmidt (former Google CEO)
Demonstrating the speed and importance at which we need to get to grips with the amount of data and information surrounding us.
One of the important themes of the morning was to question our existing ways of doing things, which was backed up by a quote from Sherlock Holmes:
“The temptation to form premature theories upon insufficient data is the bane of our profession.”
— Arthur Conan Doyle
Throughout the morning we challenged existing thinking and rather than looking to utilise data to support pre-conceived thoughts, to instead listen to what the data is telling us and the art of the possible.
A Case Study from Thought Clothing
We heard from Susan Millin, Managing Director at Thought Clothing, a sustainable fashion business. While trading as an ethical business for the past 25 years, the market is belatedly realising that sustainability is imperative, which has led to a rapid expansion of Thought’s business over the past couple of years. As such they have embarked on a digital transformation programme to embed core IT systems which will enable them to capitalise on the market opportunity and provide the foundations for further business growth.
As anyone who has embarked on a big systems replacement can testify, integrating a new platform to you existing infrastructure can be challenging. Thought recognised the opportunity to use the Enterprise Data Hub to facilitate the initial integrations, whilst creating a single repository of all company data. This can be used to facilitate future integrations through a plug and play architecture, whilst providing a single point of truth for company reporting to provide insight for further business growth.
In terms of important lessons learnt along the way, Susan shared that businesses should “use the opportunity they have now to set up now ready for the future”. Thought Clothing are on a data maturity journey, which for them started with the real time movement of operational data between systems and is now focused on using that data for analytical insight.
Susan commented “Technology directly impacts the customer experience now more than ever and it is crucial to have the right foundations in place to support this. It’s consumer demand that drives retailers, and we see that is how retailers will get ahead, by looking at the data”.
A Case Study from Jigsaw
Next up we heard from Tom Wakeford, Head of IT and Business Transformation, at Jigsaw, a high-end high street and online retailer with 45-stores in the UK. During the pandemic Jigsaw, like many other retailers, needed to refocus their offer from in-store to online. As a result, they took the decision to improve their digital proposition.
They worked with Clekt to change their approach from being point-to-point integration to becoming API driven, through the launch of their new website. The Enterprise Data Hub surfaces key data in real time to deliver the best possible customer experience online, whilst providing Jigsaw with a data engine to futureproof their business.
Tom also shared the importance of having real time access to data to ensure Jigsaw have a full picture of what’s happening across the business at any point and can deliver against customer expectations. Putting data at the heart of digital improvement is a necessity as it provides the foundations for real time accessibility of key company information.
Finally, Clekt’s Chairman, Alan Morris and Head of Marketing, Alex Broxson hosted a roundtable discussion.
A lot is being said and written about how retailers need to use their data better to optimise performance, power innovation and drive growth, but we realise that for retailers, becoming data driven is not just a case of implementing new systems. To be truly data driven, retailers must adopt a whole new way of thinking and operating.
Collecting data, and using it, is nothing new. Retailers have always amassed data even before it was recorded in digital form. But today, the volumes of data collected and stored are unprecedented. What’s disappointing is how little is being used, and even when companies are using it, they are still only achieving tried and tested outcomes. There is often a retrospective use of data – rather than being predictive and for the art of the possible.
Many organisations around the room cited that they used previous data to make informed decisions rather than looking forward. Whilst retailers used data to try pilot emails, A/B testing and looking at the impact on margin, this was often as advanced as it got.
The conversation got towards requiring a mindset shift- not to back-up predetermined thinking. Retailers need to use data to support better forecasting, rather than a backwards view of performance as it so often is.
To quote a well-known phrase;
“We don’t know what we don’t know, and the same old thinking leads to the same old results”.
Alan Morris provided a great example; many of use a Sat Nav to plan our journey. We know the rough direction of travel, and have an appreciation of the route to follow, but we program in our destination regardless. If our Sat Nav suggests a revision that doesn’t seem quite right, do we trust it and turn left off the motorway, or do we just say, “it’s wrong, it doesn’t know what I know, let’s keep going on my original route”.
But how many times have you ended up sitting in traffic queues that weren’t there the last time? This is the difference between having your thinking influenced by your data, as opposed to having your actions driven by it. If cars were totally data driven, they would have taken the left turn automatically and you wouldn’t be stuck in traffic.
The day ended with the open question “what is it that we don’t know, and what should we be asking instead?”
If you want to talk to us about how you can start to become data driven get in touch via email@example.com.