As a growth-oriented entrepreneur and Inc.com reader, you're no doubt committed to running your business as a well-oiled machine. You aspire to achieve both speed and sustainability as you set your vector toward double-digit growth.

Clive Humby is credited with coining the phrase "data is the new oil" in 2006. He analogized it as follows:

"Data is the new oil. It's valuable, but if unrefined it cannot really be used. It has to be changed into gas, plastic, chemicals, etc to create a valuable entity that drives profitable activity; so must data be broken down, analyzed for it to have value."

As you build your new organization or digitally transform your existing one for the decade ahead, it's important to focus on big insights rather than big data. You'll gain big insights by how well you define what data is worth measuring, and what technologies, people, and processes you institute to make sense of the data you collect.

In a world where you can measure and quantify anything, less is more. In a world where the customer is increasingly expecting a personalized experience in almost every interaction they have with your brand, you must build your organization and infrastructure to deliver this at speed and scale.

Here's what that means.

Your new reality, challenge, and opportunity.

In the mind of today's customer, almost every product and service available can be copied and they are no longer loyal to brand as much as their needs. Your customer has become promiscuous, and you will never make them truly loyal again.

You must build a business model for that promiscuous consumer. Your unfair advantage will come from how well--in relationship to your competition--you meet them at their moment of pain and anticipate their needs.

Every decision today must start with good data. This data must be shared and available across the company. Getting this part right gives you the ability to manage complex tasks and make real-time decisions more confidently.

Purpose-focused strategy.

Visit with your core leadership team before the end of this year individually and ask them: What do you the purpose of your business is?

If they don't all give you the same answer, then you must immediately act on this opportunity to formalize and align the entire organization on a published purpose that gives you a singular focus and gets everyone out of bed in the morning.

An awesome example of a purpose statement comes from one of my portfolio companies: "To earn the compliment of being each client's most trusted business advisor."

The juice in this purpose statement is its use of words, the clarity they bring to the company's reason for existence, how the company decides what data to measure, and what drives the company's business strategy. To earn a compliment is an action that, if not taken repeatedly and daily, is fleeting in its impact.

Putting the phrase "earn the compliment" in the purpose statement galvanizes the entire organization to achieve the highest reward (loyalty) a customer can give. It becomes personal--to every human in your team--while remaining a collective goal.

When you have a powerful and clearly aligned purpose statement--and when you drill it home--you can make better choices on your technology, manage more effectively, and empower the team to make better operational decisions daily that support your strategy and desired outcomes.

Human-centric tactics.

Empathizing with your customers will give you big insights into what they really need from you and how to leap ahead of the competition. Empathy allows you humanize your day-to-day interaction.

This is the perfect blend of machine-learning and human intuition. You must cultivate both sides of that coin.

Begin with this simple exercise:

  1. Start by focusing on an area the data is showing struggle (i.e. shipping and returns).
  2. Gather a group of humans in the room and hand out four colors of post-it notes. Each color corresponds to a category: Think, Feel, Say, and Do.
  3. Ask questions about what they would "think, feel, say, and do" at that touch point when the pain point occurs. For example: "When you have to call customer service because the company shipped you the wrong product, what do you think? Feel? Say? Do?"
  4. Have each member write the word or phrase that describes their personal thought, feeling, action, or verbalization.
  5. Put them up on a whiteboard. Discuss the human impacts and opportunities inherent in the pain point. Find ways to shift policy and procedure to better achieve your purpose-focused strategy.

More market share will be lost and stolen in the coming years than at any time in recent history. The brands that compete on the battleground in customer experience to win and design their organization to achieve great results at every turn will be left standing--and the rest will fall into the abyss of irrelevance.

Published on: Jun 21, 2017