I just came back from my monthly meeting at the CEO Club of RI. Our speaker was Chris Surdak, author of Data Crush. His topic was about Big Data and what it means to us, mostly as consumers.

Certainly big data (BD) is easy to understand when thinking about individuals and consumers in general, but harder when thinking about it in terms of B2B. BD is spooky, creepy and invasive. Companies are using it now to anticipate what we as consumers want. Google, Facebook and Amazon have been using it against us for years. Target, Wal-Mart and every other large retail company are also using it. GM is selling it. We are all addicted to our smart phones. But want about B2B?

Some of the concepts to consider are what the consumer trends are and how the social aspect can be leveraged into future trends in the B2B space, but harder when thinking about how you leverage that same data to competitive advantage now. To start, you have your own customers and clients and can use existing data you have about them. But I don’t believe this is enough to leverage into a competitive advantage as the data is too limited because it is only data about your own experiences and relationships with that set of clients and customers.

So how do you get additional data and what should you even be looking for? This is an area I am most curious about. How do I anticipate what the next big thing may be in my space or an associated space I may want to consider? I don’t know…yet.
As Chris spoke this morning he said something that triggered this message we all need to consider when thinking about data analysis. He talked about how many unsophisticated companies are using big data. What they are doing is using the same analysis they’ve always done, but on significantly larger pools of data. This is just living in the past, but being more confident in the answers the data is providing. However, the past is the past and can’t be changed. Many companies not stuck in ‘firefighting mode’ that this reactive data provides try to use that data to predict what may happen in the future. What progressive companies are doing is asking new and better questions, thus providing significantly more insightful answers significantly faster.

What does this have to do with you? Lots. Helping your clients get to a ‘persuasive’ state of actions versus the ‘reactive’ state most are in as a result of current analysis of past actions effectively skips over the ‘predictive’ state that current thinking says we should be striving for. What do I mean by this?

  • The reactive state is analyzing data to see what has already occurred and trying to make sure it doesn’t happen again. But this doesn’t anticipate anything. It is always one step behind and the past can’t be changed.
  • The predictive state is using that same data and trying to predict what might happen. MSP is a good example of predictive analysis.
  • The persuasive state is using the data to anticipate and convince clients what should happen. This is where BD is now and used very effectively by the companies and industries I mentioned above.

So what do I suggest? First, read this book. Think in terms of ‘consultative selling’. Make it mandatory for all of the sales folks and anyone who you may even consider will be working with your customers. I can guarantee the lines of questioning with clients will change to the ‘why’ of your client’s business strategy. This is the value-add of consulting. Understanding the owner’s ‘why’ and helping them find the solution that can best enable them to get there.
You may think that this isn’t a core need to recommending solutions, but I can guarantee you that this is what I am doing every day. I believe this will also make you stand out heads and shoulders above your competition in your space. And, as a result you will become your client’s valuable partner.


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