2014: The Year of Customer Intelligence
This is the year it happens. This is the year that all the technologies retailers have been talking about over the last five years merge into a singular solution. Looking back over the last half decade of "what's hot this year" articles, behavioral marketing was an initial hot topic, followed by big data, predictive analytics and omnichannel marketing. While each of these prognostications were important in their time, it was like reading the Cliff Notes version of Hamlet; there's a lot more to the story, Horatio.
This is the year that begins to redefine brands, driving profits to new levels and allowing marketers to finally begin realizing the true definition of relevance that's oft overlooked by vendors and under-represented in the industry. This is the year of customer intelligence.
Nothing new, but now understood
Starting in the late '90s, everywhere you turned vendors were talking about the ability to deliver the "right message, with the right offer, to the right person, at the right time, through the right channel." It was universally accepted as a talking point, so every vendor did just that — talk. As marketers, we let vendors own that concept, despite the fact that no one was truly delivering on that promise.
Why? Let's take the easiest example: the right message/offer. To truly deliver the best message and offer, retailers would need to know who the customer is, what's their historic value (inclusive of purchase returns), hopefully know their predicted value, what channel(s) they preferred, if the brand-level relationship was strong or potentially at risk, and if it was at risk, why so. I know, it's a lot of information, but it's necessary.
Now let's say I have a moderate customer database (inclusive of visitors), so I only have to get that information, well, say around 1.3 million times, updated in real time. That's in the neighborhood of 100 million classifications. Is anyone actually doing that? No (fine, as always, with the exception of Amazon.com). Why? It just wasn't achievable for most mere mortal marketers … until 2014. So what's suddenly changed? Nothing, the change has been a gradual one.