What does every business need? A hypnotist! Wait, what?
You're on the right track: gaining insight into what your customers want is vital in allowing your business to flourish. They're where the money comes from, after all. But it's all in how you do it. That's where something scary-sounding called 'Big Data' comes in (and, FYI, it's not found in the trash).
Data is everything. It's the supply chain information about the next big shipment coming in. It's the trends your customers live to keep up with. Even you are data, insofar as your wants, "Likes," and even purchasing history make up a single node in a vast ocean of actionable information. Think of Big Data as that ocean, and it's your job to make the right connections with the right tools while your midsize business navigates those high seas.
You need analytics to process the Big Data that matters most to your business. Getting it right is New York-based womenswear label Adrianna Papell. While the dresses are modern, the production is old-school — meaning they are made by hand and in-house. You wouldn't necessarily think that a fashion house would be up on things like data mining, right? Wrong.
Sick of not being able to clearly seeing how well dresses were selling, and where they were selling best, Adrianna Papell (working with IBM Business Partner Sky IT Group) used analytics to paint a fuller picture of what sells where, and how well. By tracking point-of-sale data and linking it to things like product attributes and retail locations, they found themselves able to predict what trends their customers would respond to. Then they reduced the production of styles that weren't selling. And increased sales by fifteen percent. Gorgeous.
So before you break out the pitch for how understanding LOLspeak will connect you with a new generation of consumers (because it won't), or as tempted as you may be to stalk your customers outright (this is a tiny bit illegal, guys), start connecting the dots using the data right in front of you.
The secret to success? One part style, one part IBM's midsize business solutions.
This post is part of the IBM Midsize Matters Series, in which business solutions are demystified, just for your midsize business. Visit IBM for Midsize Businesses on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to join the conversation.