If I ask you to imagine a New Delhi street scene, you'd likely picture bustling chaos with, inevitability, motor scooters zipping every which way. But are analytics and empathy in your mind's eye? They ought to be.
You see, Hero MotoCorp, the world's largest producer of two-wheeled vehicles, likely made many of those motor scooters you envisioned. And, as we learn in a recent MIT Sloan Management Review article, "The Benefits of Combining Data With Empathy," Hero MotoCorp stands out among companies in its use of "evidence-based empathy grounded in data analytics."
Right about now, if you're like me when I first read that phrase, you're probably wondering, "Huh? What the heck is that?"
That, authors Ritu Agarwal and Peter Weill explain in the piece, is an approach through which companies apply data compassionately in response to opportunities and risks -- a particularly valuable strategy in volatile environments. In New Delhi, for example, Hero MotoCorp supplemented its basic customer relationship management data with a compassionate program aimed at facilitating purchases by females, a rapidly emerging market opportunity, the authors said. Agarwal, who is a professor and the Robert H. Smith dean's chair of information systems at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business (as well as founder of its Center for Health Information and Decision Systems), and Weill, who is a senior research scientist and chair of the MIT Sloan School of Management's Center for Information Systems Research, explained:
Young women, who were entering India's workforce in droves, were uncomfortable, even intimidated, about shopping for motor scooters. Some were concerned about how they would look astride a scooter. In response, the company designed a new product and a new program called 'Just 4 Her,' with its own showrooms staffed by women. Female customers can view how they look on the scooter behind the privacy of a curtain.
Would a manufacturer serving well-established markets in Asia, Europe, or North America go to such extremes to make potential customers comfortable? Would they think twice about wrapping up their data with empathy? I would say not.
Certainly companies are finding the need to balance gut, or instinct, with data; to develop an analytics culture; and to turn CRM programs into customer experience management programs. But I don't believe I've encountered any that would say they're thinking about data empathically. Agarwal and Weill put it this way: "It seems that many large companies have become so focused on optimizing their business processes and systems that they have become all too willing to forget about cultivating emotional connections with customers."
They caution that companies that place too much emphasis on process and systems could find themselves in a precarious position when trying to deal with unpredictable global business environments.
In order to detect and respond to shifting customer needs, companies need to show more, not less, empathy with their customers. Some companies have found an approach that achieves that -- one that joins three important capabilities: the ability to optimize business processes and technology, the ability to foster emotional connections and the ability to use data empathically.
They call this approach "softscaling." As you can see below, comprises optimizing business processes, informed empathy, and nurturing of the emotional connection.
I won't delve into softscaling here, but it suffices to say that "The Benefits of Combining Data With Empathy" is a fascinating read and well worth your time -- whether you're thinking about the challenge from a business or analytics perspective. The authors give us lots to think about -- so much so, in fact, that we've invited Agarwal and Weill to join us for an e-chat on empathic data use. Mark your calendars for Wednesday, November 14, at 3:00 p.m. ET, and get your questions ready. We'll be chatting here.
And in the meantime, share your thoughts on empathy and data analytics below. Does the idea resonate with you?
It's hard to tell. As they graduate and move into their first jobs, there are a lot of pressures. They are the new kid on the block, and they're pretty much being told what to do, when and how. They aren't empowered to ask questions like: "Is this the right thing to do for the customer?" They may hearken back to my impassioned pleas to be humane and empathetic. They may remember articles I made them read or discussion we had in class, but I get the sense that they often don't feel like they can do much about it. If their boss says "Go through this list and find all the unprofitable customers so we can get rid of them", then that's what they do. So I try to be real with them, I try to tell them that even if they can't do much about it at the start of their career, don't forget the lessons I'm trying to teach them so that when they become the supervisor, they can tell their new hires to be sure to analyze with empathy.
This is a theme I'm constantly pushing with my students -- there are people behind those numbers. I like to use the example of law enforcement profiling. This is a controversial topic because it uses analytics to essentially brand some people as bad, or at least as a risk. But those are real people. We can't forget that even if the computer says they're bad, they're still a person with rights, feelings, etc.
I'm not sure if this one flls under empathy as well... I'm thinking of brands that don't sell mini-versions of their products because their target market is the top tier of spenders. Yet if they can sell a smaller pack of that expensive perfume, someone outside that top group will be able to try it, and maybe use it occasionally.
@callmebob, I was initially thinking that perhaps as companies embrace customer experience management programs over customer relationship management, they might become more empathetic. But the more I thought about it, the less I believe that. I think the focus in either case is in "managing" customers in order to get the most out of them vs. a focus on gaining a true understanding of customers and a desire to act on their behalf.
There seem to be a cultural component at play as to the degree of empathy applied. In the European or western marketing approach, the product is the connection and point of emphasis, not much effort or consideration is applied beyond.
Would they think twice about wrapping up their data with empathy? I would say not.
I think too many companies give their customers short shrift, and by doing so lose out. Before reading about the Hero MotoCorp and their women and scooters example in India I had seen an article from a disgruntled woman about sports bra manufactures - essentially criticizing manufacturers who didn't make an effort to design sports bras for large bosomed women. Maidenform probably has tons of data but minimal softscaling capabilities based on this example.
Diego Klabjan, chair of the INFORMS University Analytics Program Committee and program director for Northwestern University's Master of Science in Analytics program, gives his advice for figuring out where to get an advanced analytics degree.
2014 VA Interactive Roadshow -- Cary, NCThe 2014 VA Interactive Roadshow will feature SASŪ Data Management and SASŪ Visual Analytics experts covering topics like prepping data for VA and VA integration with SASŪ Office Analytics. This year's events will keep presentations at a minimum and focus on giving attendees hands-on exposure to the latest version of VA.
Essential Practice Skills for Analytics Professionals Drawing on best practices from the field, this INFORMS course helps analytics professionals add value from beginning to end: listening to clients, framing the central problem, scoping a project, defining metrics for success, creating a work plan, assembling data and expert sources, selecting modeling approaches, validating and verifying analytical results, communicating and presenting results to clients, driving organizational change, and assessing impact.
Analytics 2014 The Analytics 2014 Conference is a two-day, educational event for anyone who is serious about analytics. This annual event brings together hundreds of professionals, industry experts and leading researchers in the field of analytics. All Analytics members save $500 on conference fees by using promo code ACAA.
Premier Business Leadership Series 2014 The Premier Business Leadership Series is an exclusive event for senior executives and decision makers that focuses on solving the current issues that affect governments and businesses globally. The Series is a unique learning and networking experience focused on the most innovative leadership strategies and analytic solutions for competing in todayâs global economy.
2014 VA Interactive Roadshow -- BostonThe 2014 VA Interactive Roadshow will feature SASŪ Data Management and SASŪ Visual Analytics experts covering topics like prepping data for VA and VA integration with SASŪ Office Analytics. This year's events will keep presentations at a minimum and focus on giving attendees hands-on exposure to the latest version of VA.
Data Exploration & Visualization Get hands-on training that focuses on the critical steps in the process of analyzing data: accessing and extracting data, cleaning and preparing data, exploring and visualizing data. This INFORMS course will use several of the most popular software tools intensively, and provide an overview of the range of software options.
Foundations of Modern Predictive Analytics In this INFORMS course, learn about modern predictive analytics, the science of discovering and exploiting complex data relationships. This course will give participants hands-on practice in handling real data types, real business problems and practical methods for delivering business-useful results.
2014 VA Interactive Roadshow -- AtlantaThe 2014 VA Interactive Roadshow will feature SASŪ Data Management and SASŪ Visual Analytics experts covering topics like prepping data for VA and VA integration with SASŪ Office Analytics. This year's events will keep presentations at a minimum and focus on giving attendees hands-on exposure to the latest version of VA.
LEADERS FROM THE BUSINESS AND IT COMMUNITIES DUEL OVER CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY ISSUES
The Current Discussion
Visual Analytics: Who Carries the Onus? The Issue: Data visualization is an up-and-coming technology for businesses that want to deliver analytical results in a visual way, enabling analysts the ability to spot patterns more easily and business users to absorb the insight at a glance and better understand what questions to ask of the data. But does it make more sense to train everybody to handle the visualization mandate or bring on visualization expertise? Our experts are divided on the question. The Speakers: Hyoun Park, Principal Analyst, Nucleus Research; Jonathan Schwabish, US Economist & Data Visualizer
The hospitality industry gathers massive amounts of customer data, and mining that data effectively can yield tremendous results in terms of improved CRM, better-targeted marketing spend, and more efficient back-end processes. Roger Ares, vice president of analytics at Hyatt Corp., discusses the ways he and his staff use big data.
Charged with keeping track of travel assets, including employees, iJET International relies on data management best-practices and advanced analytics to keep its clients in the know on current and potential world events affecting travel, Rich Murnane, Director of Enterprise Data Operations & Data Architect, told All Analytics in an interview from the 2014 SAS Global Forum Executive Conference.
Jason Dorsey, chief strategy officer for the Center for Generational Kinetics and keynote speaker at last month's SAS Global Forum 2014, describes how Gen Y professionals are enhancing the makeup of multigenerational analytics organizations.
From analytics talent development to the power of visual analytics, All Analytics found a variety of common themes circulating throughout the exhibition floor and session discussions at the 2014 SAS Global Forum and SAS Global Forum Executive Conference events held last month in Washington, DC.
Talking with All Analytics live from the 2014 SAS Global Forum Executive Conference, Eric Helmer, senior manager of campaign design and execution for T-Mobile, discussed the importance of customer data -- starting internally -- in devising the mobile operator's marketing plans.
The big-data analytics market can be a confusing place. Among the vendors vying for your dollars are traditional database management providers, Hadoop startup services, and IT giants. In this video, All Analytics editors Beth Schultz and Michael Steinhart sit down in a Google+ Hangout on Air with Doug Henschen, executive editor of InformationWeek. Henschen discusses use cases for big-data analytics, purchase considerations, and his recent roundup of the top 16 big-data analytics platforms.
At the National Retail Federation BIG Show last month, All Analytics executive editor Michael Steinhart noted a host of solutions for tracking and analyzing customer activity in retail stores. From Bluetooth beacons to RFID tags to NFC connections to video analytics, retailers must find the right combination of tools to help optimize the shopper experience, streamline operations, and boost revenues.
The days when historical shipment trends and gut feelings were enough to forecast retail demand accurately are long over. SAS chief industry consultant Charles Chase outlines the benefits of pulling real-time sales information from point-of-sale and product scanner systems, then flowing that data into dynamic forecasting tools from SAS.
With today's advanced visual analytics tools, you can stream data into memory for real-time processing, provide users the ability to explore and manipulate the data, and bring your data to life for the business.
Dynamic data visualizations let analysts and business users interact with the data, changing variables or drilling down into data points, and see results in a flash. Advance your use of data visualization with tools that support features like auto-charting, explanatory pop-ups, and mobile sharing.
No doubt your enterprise is amassing loads of data for fact-based decision-making. Hand in hand with all that data comes big computational requirements. Can traditional IT infrastructure handle the increasing number and complexity of your analytical work? Probably not, which is why you need a backend rethink. Big data calls for a high-performance analytics infrastructure, as Fern Halper, a partner at the IT consulting and research firm, Hurwitz & Associates, discusses here.
Redbox's bright-red DVD kiosks are all but ubiquitous these days, located in more than 28,000 spots across the country. Jayson Tipp, Redbox VP of Analytics and CRM, provides an insider's look at how the company has accomplished its phenomenal nine-year growth.
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), a seven-brand global hotelier, has woven analytics into the fabric of its operations. David Schmitt, director of performance strategy and planning, shares IHG's analytics story and his lessons learned.