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Business Intelligence in the Age of Digital Transformation


In light of the current digital transformation, it’s more critical than ever before to have a comprehensive view of the customer. The modern consumer has unlimited access to digital information right at his fingertips and makes purchase decisions more confidently and from a more mature and informed place than his parents and grandparents, who viewed lifelong customer loyalty as a central pillar of German virtues. Add to that the breathtaking speed at which trends and preferences – and thus the markets – are changing, and it’s clear that keeping a finger on the consumer pulse is imperative.

According to a global KPMG survey, a full 88 percent of German CEOs are “fairly” or “very” concerned about customer loyalty. 61 percent are “fairly” or even “extremely” worried that their own business model could be disrupted by new competitors. 55 percent doubt whether their own products or services will even be in demand three years from now.

The good news:

There’s more information available than ever before to gain insight into the minds of customers and thus to help companies understand what drives purchase options and to react quickly to changes or new trends.

Alongside classic systems like CRM, marketers have access to innumerable consumer touch points such as e-mail, social media or call center notes.

The supposed downside: With traditional tools such as Business Intelligence (BI), it is very difficult to garner and process the information which consists increasingly of unstructured data – in a way that facilitates rapid and informed decisions.

What’s to be done?

Admittedly, the concept of BI arose at a time in which the amount of data was manageable and conveniently located in databases over which – much to the chagrin of business users – the IT department had exclusive control when it came to how applications were used, and only power-users could actually understand how to wield the mighty tools.  However, the current demand for BI is on the rise and Gartner forecasts a worldwide sales increase of 5.2 percent to 16.9 billion US dollars for this year.

What is needed today are systems that can be handled by the relevant business departments and which also have the ability to integrate a variety of data sources, both structured or unstructured, in their analysis. While modern self-service business intelligence (SSBI) solutions have made significant headway in enabling business users to access and work with corporate data without needing a techy or statistical analysis background, they quickly hit a wall when it comes to their ability to process unstructured data.

The solution to this dilemma is Search-driven Business Intelligence. It combines the best of the BI world with the benefits of the big data environment. Big data analytics not only has the wherewithal to handle the rapidly growing data conglomeration, but, with intelligent functions like semantic analysis of text documents or even videos, it can also gracefully manage to transform unstructured data into structured information and integrate it into BI system analysis.

What does that mean in practice?

Suppose an insurance company wants to get to know its customers better in order customize its marketing campaign. The challenge is to have access in the analysis and planning to all available information about a particular group of customers – that also includes damage reports, contract changes or customer requests, all of which is often unstructured in the form e-mails or letters. Manually entering and incorporating the relevant data into the database is both time consuming and error prone.

The system analyzes an email or the PDF of a scanned letter, extracts relevant information like date of birth or policy and address information, uses keywords such as “home” and “burglary”, which are placed in a semantic context, to recognize and classify the data and its source. With the appliance’s machine-learning capabilities, this continuous process becomes even more accurate the longer the system is in use.

The Chief Marketing Officer, armed with accessible and applicable information which has been classified, intelligently processed and linked to other sources such as CRM, now possesses a comprehensive picture of the individual customer and customer groups. A web portal, which is as easy to use as an online search engine, can be used to refine the search and combine and query the data in whatever way necessary to get personalized, customized results and analyses. Using dashboard-typical visualization elements such as pie charts and timelines, the CMO can quickly recognize the patterns and trends that will help her to design the marketing campaign.

This level of sophistication and technology transforms scattered and unstructured customer information into data-driven and data-informed insights that will ultimately help businesses tune into the complexities of customer behavior and loyalty and ensure that a company‘s marketing messages are timely, customized and relevant.  This functionality can be practically and effectively applied not only in the insurance sector but also in countless other lines of business.


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