Tag Archives: Marriott

Data: The New Capital of the Digital Age

Data: The New Green

The Economist recently ran a special report on managing information that prompted some thinking. First, some big numbers from the report: Wal-Mart handles over 1 million sales transactions per hour. Facebook houses some 40 billion photos (after only 4 years of operation). Cisco estimates that Internet traffic will reach 667 exabytes by 2013.

 With some 60 million people on Twitter, according to comScore data (November 2009), there are roughly 10 million tweets a day. This doesn’t account for the content – characters, photos, articles and video content. I also found that YouTube has generated more video content than all of the television networks combined have ever generated. The current upload rate is equivalent to about 100,000 Hollywood movies being made on a monthly basis. Finally, almost 100 trillion e-mails were sent in 2009.  

Bringing this a bit closer to home, consider the number of daily transactions that take place for banking, air travel, credit card processing, phone calls and e-commerce. You end up with some very large numbers indeed. This data also says a lot about how we behave. Most intriguing perhaps is what it can tell us, through the use of complex algorithms, how we might behave at some future point in time – and where new business opportunity may dwell.  

This growth in the information industry is not reflective of recessionary times. It points to a shift in investment, new business models, the laying of new infrastructure (servers, storage, cloud computing, software) and global workforce expansion in business information. It’s also transformational as the CIO’s role is increasingly one of contributing directly to business growth in contrast to the dogmatic notion of keeping the lights on in the boiler rooms of Enterprise Resource Planning and Supply Chain Management.  

It’s the effect of the peta, exa and yottabyte world that is most intriguing. Conventional ways to sense and understand consumer behaviour  will be challenged by the new wave of business analytics. Marketing research is but one example. If predictive analytics can do a better job of identifying which category of SKU’s is trending upward or which meal combo is gaining favour, what will marketing research be used for? Data analytics can also be used to generate new ideas for services, products and as importantly, help companies shed under-performing assets and balance inventories. By implication, there is a clear line of sight to the financial payback as firms like Amazon and Marriott have learned.  

This point from the Economist is worth noting:  

“…all these data are turning the social sciences upside down, he [Sinan Aral, NYU] explains. Researchers are now able to understand human behaviour at the population level rather than the individual level.”  

It’s no wonder Big Tech (IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP etc.) is loading up on search, storage and processing capability. In exchange they will reap new profits from the digital age, largely unnoticed from behind the curtain of social networks and online store fronts.   

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM  

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Social Networks: The New Outsourcing Frontier

Kiosk by ISDA Design Winner Toshihiro Fujimura

It occured to me recently that one of the biggest opportunities for CRM consulting resides in the domain of social media platforms. Ten years ago, in the salad days of CRM process consulting, much of the focus was on customer service response via call centres. These were also the early days of multi-channel customer service whereby web and telephone were becoming integrated into the customer service experience.

For example, if you had were a member of the Starwood (eg. Sheraton, W, Westin, Four Points) Preferred Guest program, you could contact Starwood customer service via their web site. If you had a query regarding missing frequent stay points, you could use the ‘Call Me’ feature which, via the web site, prompted an almost instantaneous telephone call from a Starwood customer service representative (CSR). Once points were remitted, a refresh of the Starwood website would immediately reflect the customer’s updated account balance.

Social networks like Twitter and Facebook now present new opportunities for customer service that drive both engagement and reduce operating costs. For example, since the Twitter application is free, customers could have their own dedicated account (within a closed network to ensure customer privacy), in order to deal with relatively simple transactions such as routine account queries. CSR’s in turn, could send out special offers. One example might be to offer a promotional rate to customers that have booked into a recently opened hotel. Another might be to provide additional points via Twitter for a guest that has reached a milestone upon checking out (reaching clip level for Marriott Silver status), via a mobile application.

It used to be said that the cost of sending a sales rep out to make an in-person call was about $500 per meeting. With telephone, the cost of a transaction went to $10 per call. With the web, this was down to less than a dollar. Social media platforms: close to zero.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia

Why just be Social when you can have a Relationship?

Facebook "Friends"?

I must give credit to the crowds for one thing after all: if it weren’t for the popularity of Social Media, I never would have thought of the idea of Relational Media. Since I first started in the business of providing online brand monitoring  and business insight services to corporations, the Social Media “industry”, if you may call it that, has gone through many an identity crisis.

Back in 2004, we talked a lot about ‘user/consumer generated content’ (UGM/CGM). The next iteration, with much credit to the folks at WOMMA, was to bring some structure and definition to this emerging media, so the term WOM – Word of Mouth Marketing, came into the lexicon. Lately it’s been called “Social Media”, largely defined (and some will,  of course, disagree with this definition) as the use of online software applications such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to be ‘social’ with many, without necessarily having to be bothered with the responsibilities inherent in a Relationship (dating sites might disagree here).

Lifetime Relationship

As many of us have witnessed, there has been so much hand-wringing, whining, debate and general consternation by agencies, PR firms, evangelists and self-styled social media artistes about  making Social Media work, period, never mind the monetization aspect. My steely resolve has been to deal with Social Media head on: call it Relational Media.

Why you ask? Well, it comes down to Human nature. We all crave, to some extent, love, recognition and respect.

Brands also feel this way as they seek to initially be social with people but eventually want to head to the altar and be your mate for life.  Is that not what Customer Lifetime Value is all about – attracting, retaining and developing profitable customers for life? Minute Maid, Crest, Toyota, Land’s End, Timex, Apple, Lufthansa, Marriott and many other brands don’t just want you to browse an end-of-aisle display or take a test drive, they want you to take them home.

We do this every day. I’ve used Tide because my mother did. I’ve been drinking Coca-Cola since I was a kid. I always stay at a Marriott property when I travel on business. I’ve worn Brooks Brothers button-down oxcloth shirts since I went to college… you get the picture.

So, there it is. Simple. Media that enables brands to build a relationship – packaging, television, conversations, the Internet or a coupon, whatever – not just a speed date. Relational media is an enabler of Customer Relationship Management

It’s great to be part of the crowd but it’s even better when you can have a friend for life. Relational Media.