Data is everyone’s problem, and most businesses use only part of their information – if they even know how to use it, writes Raj De Datta, CEO and co-founder of Bloomreach. He tells how to put data to work to improve operations — and give customers what they want.


Raj De Datta

The world generates about 2.5 quintillion bytes every day, with the average person generating 1.7 MB of data every second. By 2024, it’s estimated that the world will consume 149 zettabytes annually — up from 74 zettabytes consumed in 2021.

That’s a lot of information — much of it incredibly valuable to organizations as they look to adopt a more customer-centric approach to business strategies. From marketing to customer service, the ability to understand customers on a deep, data-backed level can put teams at a massive advantage.

Sales and profits are substantially higher for businesses applying customer analytics broadly and extensively.

But while customer data (and other forms) can be a company’s most valuable asset, few organizations are using it widely or efficiently enough to recognize its true impact. Most organizations use less than half of their structured data to make decisions — and under 1% of their unstructured data. Only 13% of organizations have full confidence they’re maximizing their available data.

What’s more, data is still often seen as an area best suited for technical teams. While customer-centric functions like marketing arguably stand to gain the most from using this data, they’re also the departments most likely to face challenges in accessing or utilizing it.


Data is everyone’s problem

Ask just about any company about their data strategy and you’ll probably hear that they collect more data than ever before. Fewer will be able to say they’ve actually figured out what to do with that data.

In the past, data management was considered a tech or chief information officer problem, but with more departments expected to increase their customer centricity and efficiency, data has become an everyone problem. Companies can use it to streamline operations, identify customer pain points, and inform marketing and sales campaigns with customer insights to more effectively deliver what customers expect — and need. Data is valuable to every department, which means everyone has a role to play in the company’s data strategy.

The starting point for that strategy? Taking stock of what you have.

Data is often siloed across departments and technologies. Businesses need a clear understanding of their important sources of reliable data — where and how those are collected, what is actually needed, and which departments can benefit from its use.


From there, consider areas for consolidation. There are a number of tools available to help unify data (a customer data platform, or CDP, for example), but they are of no use to organizations when there are countless tools in use and no single source of truth. Consider areas where you can consolidate tech stacks or where it makes sense to invest in a more comprehensive solution. Unification should also enable cross-departmental collaboration. All teams in your organization ultimately serve the same customer; they should see the same customer view.

And of course, prioritize both data privacy and quality. Organizations should seek to collect data responsibly, adhering to privacy regulations and collecting customer consent where necessary. Organizations should also seek to collect data they actually need. A data exchange is just that — an exchange. If customers provide information about who they are and what they like, a business should use that information to provide a better, more personalized experience in return.

Data put into action

So what does that better experience look like for your organization?

Some organizations make a key mistake with their data: They spend too much time worrying about collecting and storing it and not enough time thinking about how they’ll put it into action, making use of their data assets to drive the business.


How companies can use data to make the customer experience better, faster, more seamless, more enjoyable, more… anything, really, is quite astonishing. Consider where your customers — whose needs and buying patterns are unique to your business — will benefit most from a data-driven experience. These adjustments might be something easily accomplished within the organization, such as gaining a better understanding of existing, underused analytics, or they may require investment in new technologies, such as a CDP. Regardless, data put into action should produce noticeable results for both customers and the business.

For example, you can use data to:

  • Deliver personalized product recommendations with more precision and in more channels.
  • Ensure customers don’t receive promotions for products that are out of stock or unavailable in their size.
  • Improve customer service by monitoring support response times.
  • Drive down returns by recommending more accurate sizing or relevant products.

Leveraging actionable data to improve the customer journey elevates the customer experience, makes it more enjoyable and often, more tailored. That’s important. Customers overwhelmingly favor more personalized experiences — 71% expect it and 76% are frustrated when they don’t find it.

Using data to drive business decisions and customer experiences creates happier customers, improves the brand experience and delivers greater business results. In fact, sales and profits are substantially higher for businesses applying customer analytics broadly and extensively.

Data is everyone’s solution

Data is critical for scaling your business. And this is likely not the first (or second or tenth) time you’ve heard that.


As technology has evolved and data has grown abundant, many companies have understood its potential and sought to derive value from its use. Yet countless challenges have stood in the way of actually achieving that. Departments worked in silos, IT teams became the data gatekeepers, businesses collected data without a clear idea of what they wanted to do with it. There have been valid challenges preventing businesses from capitalizing on their data’s value.

But we can no longer allow those challenges to stand in the way of leveraging such a critical asset. Businesses must invest the time and resources to create a holistic data strategy. It’s time to focus on collecting and consolidating data, breaking down silos, and strategizing how to put data into action organization wide.

In today’s fast-moving, digital world, data is everyone’s problem. Harnessed correctly, it becomes everyone’s solution.

About the author

Raj De Datta is the CEO and co-founder of Bloomreach, a provider of “commerce experience” products and services designed to help online B2B and retail companies engage their customers. Prior to launching Bloomreach in 2009, De Datta served as entrepreneur-in-residence at Mohr-Davidow Ventures, director of product marketing at Cisco Systems, and a member of the founding team of telecom company FirstMark Communications. He continues to serve on the Council for Player Development for the U.S. Tennis Association and as a founder-partner at venture capital firm Founder Collective.


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