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May 26, 2017
Follow the data, not your gut. Why Data-driven business is the key to success.
By: Greg Leja

Given that the entire digital video industry is being heavily impacted by the explosion of rapid technology changes, it’s easy to believe that throwing more technology into the mix is the answer to all our business challenges. Newer, faster, smaller - implement it first to stay ahead of the curve.

The promise is particularly enticing with big data, offering everything from predicting customers’ behaviors to forecasting perfect content commissions.

Becoming a data-driven company requires going beyond simply beefing up the IT department. Data-driven companies transform their entire operating model.

In our last blog post on Charting the course to success in the video industry, we talked about aggregators and distributors:

  • Aggregators will need to live up to their name: They must be the easiest and most engaging place to find the content that consumers love across a number of traditional distributors and digital native providers. Many aggregators are beginning to look harder at their technology investments to make sure they are structured in a way that helps them compete effectively in a more liquid marketplace.
  • Distributors are threatened by the shift in consumer behaviors. As customers fragment their media consumption, distributors will need to drive higher customer engagement to increase loyalty and revenue per user. This means that they need to figure out how to better understand content performance, launch new direct-to-consumer digital businesses and command a premium on their own advertising inventory.

Whether an aggregator or distributor, traditional companies need to fundamentally change their corporate anatomy, bringing themselves closer to the operating models of digital disrupters threatening their businesses. That means weaving the understanding and use of data into every function, of the value chain -- from content production and acquisition to distribution and customer consumption.

Disrupters Are Streaming Ahead With Future Revenue Forecasts That Outstrip Incumbents

The video industry as a whole is growing, but analysts put higher value on the future earnings of disrupters compared with established operators.

Follow the data, not your gut. Why Data-driven business is the key to success.

Current and future value for a group of indicative traditional media companies and disrupters Source: Accenture analysis, 2017

Here are some practical steps to consider.

Establish analytics & data leadership across the company
As you introduce new ways of thinking and doing things, you need to ensure effective internal communication, training, implementation and evaluations. Analytics and data must be hard-wired into the management structure. A strong governance structure is critical for this kind of multi-disciplinary effort. It should give you the power to take needed actions to deliver your intended business outcomes - without cross-functional issues getting in the way.

Create interdisciplinary teams, with business, analytics and technology
Data flows across all aspects of the business. To use it, multiple disciplines need to come together in one team, breaking down the silos that most big corporations have built. We like the scrum model - a name taken from rugby, when a group of players lock arms, get their heads down and push forward against the competition to achieve a goal. Consider a scrum master to lead teams on specific projects, ensuring that a data-driven philosophy pushes into every corner. In addition to the obvious technical roles (analytics, data engineering, testing, dev ops), you’ll want product managers, business owners, marketing and customer relations.

Follow the data, not your gut
A data-driven culture uses the power of analytics to optimize its spending and deliver what customers want. It sounds logical, but it goes against long traditions of using intuition, based on experience, to determine what might work with a customer segment. Turn instead to hypothesis-driven service evolution. Successful companies start by identifying the “actionable metrics” that would conclusively prove that an innovative new service is a winner. Netflix, for example, is using data to guide decisions on which shows to invest in. Data-driven companies then iterate against the metrics, improving as they do.

When leading French media business M6 realized that it wanted to make better use of the large amount of data at its disposal, the company took a hard look at its advertising strategies. Using big data platforms and advanced analytics features, marketers, technologists and business leaders came together to build a detailed segmentation of their audience based on behavior across websites. They enriched it with anonymized offline data. This improved relevance and personalization, letting M6 manage its advertising yield more effectively.

No company has a crystal ball to see into the future. But those who work data into the way their business is run - transforming at every level - will have deeper and richer insight than the companies that don’t. Short of invoking magic, that’s a dependable way to stay ahead of the competition.

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