In 2015, Caesars Entertainment Operating Co, which owns the famous Caesars Palace casino brand in the US, filed for bankruptcy protection over $18bn of debt.
During the bankruptcy process, which asset was valued the highest by the creditors?
The sprawling prime Las Vegas real estate?
Their 15,000 highly skilled employees perhaps?
It was their data. More specifically, their customer loyalty programme.
It was valued at $1billion.
Over the previous 15 years, they had prioritised collecting high quality data from their customers. Enabling them to producing deep insights into customers behaviour that allowed them to offer a level of service & personalisation their competitors couldn’t.
These insights were valued more than the physical real estate.
Many people were surprised. Are you?
Caesars Corp is a big business, which had access to huge amount of resources. They had 45million customers on their loyalty programme. Most SMEs will never have even a fraction of 45million customers in their life time, let alone high quality data on their interactions with your company.
But for SMEs the point is the same: Data is your most valuable asset.
It is the distilled essence of customer experience, product performance and employee happiness. Data offers the opportunity to understand what customers want, what products sell and why, what promotions work and when.
As the speed of digital transformation increases; having access to deep evidence based insights into customer behaviour is becoming a necessity for SMEs to remain competitive.
However, most SMEs we talk to aren’t in this position. What we often find are ambitious, growth oriented businesses, with great people & a great product or service but when it comes to data they are stuck.
Most likely we’ll find confusion as to which insights will make the biggest impact in their business, time consuming manual processes piecing together data, archaic fragmented data technology, inconsistent definitions, incomplete data & an apathetic or non-existent data culture.
Whatever the issues, the outcome is always the same: the business can answer only the most basic questions. To move forward, SMEs need a coherent right-fit data strategy to solve these issues & maximise the value of their data to reach their business objectives.
The term ‘Data Strategy’ is perhaps the most over used buzzword in the business world over the past 10 years. So before we go any further lets clear up some misconceptions:
A data strategy isn’t an expensive document that gathers dust in a draw. It isn’t something you buy ready-made off the shelf to plug in & play. It isn’t a scary 2 year transformation programme that promises the moon, delivers little & bleeds the bank account dry.
And it doesn’t start by Googling Gartner Magic Quadrant…
For SMEs, it begins by answering the question: what do we want to know about our business to be more successful?
It is your unique approach to people, process & technology to maximise the value of your data in relation to your business objectives.
It’s an analysis of where you are today vs where you need to be, then starting small with a minimal viable product approach to prove value as the first of many small, yet orchestrated strategic steps to bridge that data chasm. It’s about iterating as quickly as possible whilst working towards a vision of what a data inspired version of your business looks like.
This is where SMEs have the upper hand. They can be more agile, more nimble in response to change & opportunities than bigger competitors. But this can only be done with confidence by starting the process of putting deep evidence based insights at the heart of your decision making.
By delaying & simply putting up with the status quo SMEs are leaving money on the table.
The overhead of managing manual frustrating data process, the cost of very slow, inadequate reporting or guessing on reasons for outcomes is almost immeasurable.
To give you a reference as to where you are today, here are 5 signs that your business is using data optimally:
1/ Shared vision of how data can help drive the business forward
Hint: The business leaders don’t wonder what else they could do with their data, everyone is clear the value it can bring to your specific circumstances.
2/ Trusted & Standardized reporting
Hint: You don’t hear disagreement or debates on definitions & metrics.
3/ Data Insights add measurable value
Hint: Business leaders don’t guess on reasons for outcomes or on likely future performance. Meetings start with evidence based insights, not opinions.
4/ Right-fit in-house data team
Hint: The CFO doesn’t spend 50% of their time managing a monster excel spreadsheets.
5/ Modern, optimised technology
Hint: You finance team aren’t frustrated at spending weeks manually piecing together multiple data sets.
As an SME business leader, if you’re not experiencing all the above; then we would strongly advise taking action today to start your data journey.
Ammonite specialise in taking SMEs through every stage of their data journey. To arrange an initial call to understand how we can help your business, please fill out the form below & we’ll be in touch.
(1) How six companies are using technology and data to transform themselves, McKinsey.https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/mckinsey-digital/our-insights/how-six-companies-are-using-technology-and-data-to-transform-themselves
(2) 2 Becoming an analytics-driven organisation to create value, EY, https://assets.ey.com/content/dam/ey-sites/ey-com/en_gl/topics/digital/ey-global-becoming-an-analytics-driven-organization.pdf
(3) Big Data and A1 Executive Survey 2021, New Vantage Partners, NewVantage Partners Big Data and AI Executive Survey 2019 (filesusr.com)
(4) Measuring the Business Value of Data Quality https://www.gartner.com/en/documents/1819214