Imagine driving a car without a dashboard. You will know it is moving, but have no idea about its speed, no clue when the fuel is going to be over or if the battery needs servicing. Sure, the driver will be able to go from one point to another but in a queasy manner. Now, imagine driving the same car with a swank dashboard which is giving incorrect information. It is worse than having no dashboard because the driver will be taking key decisions based on inaccurate dashboard information only to be stranded in no man’s land. Many CEOs face this as data overload with rare decision-making support.
Dashboards are the key for smooth ride and all savvy businesses lean on their marketing teams to architect dashboards. In old age enterprises, these exist in the form of periodic Management Committee reviews. In future safe businesses, these exist as real time dashboards. And in case of fluke businesses about to lose market share, there is only gut feel. The best marketing dashboards can be experienced in data science-oriented marketing companies (google analytics, fitbit are two good examples).
A CONTINUOUS BRAND DASHBOARD
There are two categories of measures for any consumer business; sales measures and mind measures. Sales measures capture efficiency of distribution & sales push while mind measures are the ideal dipsticks for brand strengths. The two collectively are early predictors for forecasting business revenues. Sales measures predict the next few weeks, while mind measures predict coming months. Both collectively are the starting point for forward planners for the rest of the business plan.
Sales logistics of a business starts at the factory, moves to stockists, then retailers and finally consumers. Hence sales measures too, follow the same path tracking off-take at each connecting point in the sales system. It begins at stock availability in stockists (primary sales), moves to stock availability in retail (secondary sales), brand visibility in shelves (planogram), brand retail off-take (tertiary sales) and brand consumption (household panels). On the other hand, mind measures are from a consumer perspective going from a consumer’s eye i.e. what they see on the brand, to consumer’s brain i.e. what they think of the brand, to consumer’s heart i.e. what they feel for the brand and finally wallet i.e. how much is their willingness to pay. The two measures presented together as a single infographic allow a CEO to take decisions for de-risking future revenues in immediate term and medium term.
ACCESSIBLE CAs OR BROKEN LINKS
Of course, business dashboards exist. But these beautiful dashboards are like walls; one cannot judge the strength of the wall by the looks of it. Actual robustness of a dashboard is the two CAs; credible, authentic (CA) data and comparable analysis (CA).
Authenticity of data comes from the respondent being the correct respondent. BOTs and fudged surveys have always been a falsifying challenge. Notwithstanding anything else, in-person responses using gadgets to authenticate is the most authentic response. Pre-COVID19, trained specialists would do the job but post-COVID19, credible (willing to share feedback) respondents are a huge access issue. No one wants to talk to strangers. Hence, ideal way is for CEOs to urge their brand teams in curating owned, accessible panel for in-person authentic, credible data collection.
Comparable analysis is the least discussed subject as it is against the commercial interests of multiple vendors. Any research relies on a sample, with a certain periodicity, to estimate sales and mind measures. Sampling errors get exponentially amplified if one compares sources with differing size and/or periodicity e.g. TV viewership data is weekly, print readership quarterly, digital real time, retail audit monthly, household panel monthly and brand tracks quarterly; usually with completely different samples. A broken link. The right way for CEO is to have its own integrated panel for all information but their teams try convince them to accommodate broken links to cover for inefficiencies. Note, it is never a budget issue because whatever one may spend on the two CAs, it will be less than 10% of the total marketing spends.
WHAT COVID-19 TAUGHT US ON REAL TIME ROBO-COUPLING
There are three important learning for CEOs from what society continues to do to battle COVID-19 pandemic. First is the need to have real time data. One of the earliest challenges for work to restart was not a vaccine but a COVID-19 tests, which would take a few days to report. CEOs should check if the dashboards they are using have real time data. Both sales measures and mind measures can and should be measured in real time. Second breakthrough to fight COVID-19 are the mobile apps for all of us to track and report each other. However, many enterprises have the data dashboard which is centralised with Research team, who are expected to disseminate information. That’s the old way. Brand dashboards are used best as mobile with different access to different organisation hierarchies. And finally, the need for new approach. COVID-19 vaccines and tests continue to come from new, unexpected sources. Hence, an immediate need for CEO office is to urge brand teams to partner new age technology savvy, research and intelligence partners to build real time automatic dashboard. These customisable dashboards minimize errors by normalising data, from different sources, on the fly to make different data comparable for a useful, integrated dashboard. And like any other digital transformation, this one too can only be driven from the top. Because most others are only doing their jobs.
CEOs should Invest on only real-time dashboards built by integrating different sales/ mind measure using credible, authentic data from their own integrated panel.
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Intelligent insights (Intin) is a Business Intelligence Platform that combines the power of technology tools with the insightful experience of seasoned consumer marketers and subject matter experts.