Interview with Stuart Johnston, Deputy MD,on the prevalence of big data
Interview with Stuart Johnston, Deputy MD, Sky IQ and Paul Corrall, editor of sourcingfocus.com
Sky IQ is a leading marketing solutions provider, delivering customer intelligence and unique data services to maximise spend across advertising and marketing. Our capabilities span the entire media mix, bringing insight to above and below the line activities.
Big data and ways of analysing data is a trend at the moment in the outsourcing industry, could you describe some of the tools you use to look at data and solve customer marketing challenges?
Sky IQ has been involved in big data and insight for some time. However, the recent growth of technology and, in turn, collection of larger amounts of data per individual has meant that the term Big Data is considered to be a relatively new development in the marketplace.
Consumer interactions are becoming much more fragmented and devices are much more sophisticated. As a result, we now see customers leaving data footprints wherever they go, both unknowingly and deliberately. Through a combination of hardware and software tools, data, and incredibly experienced analysts, Sky IQ helps organisations to join up and analyse this multi-channel data to create truly accurate insight in to customer behaviour and journeys to then aid future marketing and decision-making. Sky IQ’s capabilities range from database hosting, to campaign management tools, to creation of data models to drive the insight required to support wider business objectives. From an analytics perspective, it’s our people and experience that are key and we take a real consultative approach to ensure that the insight we deliver is truly effective in driving better decisions to aid improved business results.
How do you go about analysing that behaviour and what kind of tools do you use to get the unique insight which you offer?
It, of course depends on many factors such as the client’s specific requirements, database size, and their in-house team and technology. Some of the technologies we use are proprietary and some we have built in house.
In terms of analysing behaviour, we always start by creating a single customer view to ensure that a client’s data is joined up and accurate, and therefore the insight we’re driving is both true and valuable. We then have a large team of analysts who have great experience in understanding and reading data, and therefore knowing how to get the right information from it in order to predict future behaviour and drive effective communication strategies and decision-making. This includes such skills as creating bespoke behaviour-based models to predict future consumer activity or understand real business issues such as what’s driving customer churn.
How do you see consumer power evolving?
The challenge is not understanding how, but knowing how to embrace and react to change as it happens. Brands have to respond quickly and remember that the consumer is always right. The organisations which embrace this and respond effectively will succeed. Those that try to control it or deny consumer opinion will fail. Consumers like transparency and honesty.
An example of this is when a software bug was picked up by Sky IQ through social media postings rather than in beta trials. Sky IQ identified this by using insight combined with the analysis of key words through language recognition software in order to build trends. This then gave Sky the capability to react immediately to consumer reactions and deal with it appropriately.
In terms of consumer power and Intelligence what are the upcoming trends?
The big things are social and mobile. Consumers are now on the go, consuming content in ways we never thought about with a good experience from sophisticated devices.
Through such sophistication, consumers have increasing power to influence the outcome of brands. The challenge for brands is that it is untenable to collect all this data, and therefore a careful strategy is needed to know what to keep and how the data should be used in order to gain actual insight and response mechanisms. From Sky IQ’s perspective, the key is in understanding what is worth collecting and what isn’t. We pull out insight from Big Data and package the results for clients so they can take meaningful actions.
What does the future hold for SKY IQ?
We’re growing at a rapid rate now, from the acquisition of the business and the brands we’re working with. Our clients include such companies as Molson Coors, who we help to understand what their consumers are doing and what venues they are consuming their products in.
With another client, News International, we provide both an outsourced and an insourced service. People are now consuming news through different devices. NI therefore has a growing subscription business so people can consume their business online However, they have very fragmented data sources since this is the first time they are collecting customer information and prospect information themselves rather than through distributors . We are creating a single view from their data, helping them to understand how many customers they actually have, what is affecting customer behaviour, why they may be subscribing and unsubscribing etc. We also provide them with the necessary tools for campaign management and execution.
For Sky IQ it’s a truly exciting time. As data footprints continue to grow in an experiential manner, so does the desire from businesses to understand and execute on this data.