In 2013, we learned that 90 percent of all the world’s data had been generated in just two years. Fast forward to 2016,and nothing about big data is slowing down.
We live in a digital world continually generating massive amounts of data through billions of connected devices. Connected technologies increase our homes’ intelligence and efficiency and strengthen our city infrastructures with smart devices.
Analytics give us the key to unlock the value to this data. In 2016, software will apply analytics in a new way to deliver a more prescriptive approach for solving a business problem.
Changing the rear-view mirror mentality
To prescribe or “lay down a course of action to be followed” has much greater business value than to describe or “tell or give an account of” an event that has already occurred.
Descriptive analytics tell you what has happened, and predictive analytics forecast what will happen. Prescriptive analytics tell you what you should do. There is a place for all of these types of analytics in business. But right now prescriptive analytics offer the most opportunity for business transformation and growth.
Prescriptive analytics let organizations be proactive rather than reactive and identify what should be done based on actual data patterns. Prescriptive analytics will affect all types of industries, but one business category in particular is being transformed with its usage – sales.
Transforming sales processes with digital insights
Sales is an industry that relies on metrics. Historically, these metrics showed past activities: how many deals were closed in a quarter, who made or didn’t make their numbers, whether any new business was generated with existing customers.
Forward-looking predictions – about the expected percentage of attained quotas, closed deals, and the best leads to pursue – have been frequently based on gut instinct.
Emerging sales software is changing that paradigm by delivering valuable contextual information. Integrating that data with intelligent, prescriptive analytics can both answer key questions and show sales organizations the right course of action to take, for example:
- Who has the greatest and least likelihood of making the number – to show you what adjustments are needed before the end of the quarter
- What sales process has had the most success – to show you what process to repeat and scale across the organization
- Which prospects are most interested and in what areas – to show you where team efforts need to be focused
- Which customers are interested in new products or services – to show you the best upsell and cross-sell opportunities
In choosing analytics, organizations must first know the business question they need answered to understand the type of required analytics. Then, there are other questions to consider. Is the data delivered in real-time? Are business insights intuitive and easily understood? Does the data integrate within your existing systems?
Increasing knowledge and understanding
The biggest reason why prescriptive analytics have become especially important for sales organizations comes from today’s B2B buyer. B2B buyers are learning about products and services on their own and don’t engage with sellers until they’re much farther along in the buying process. This has resulted in lost visibility into the customer journey and lost understanding about what interests buyers and where they are in the process.
This situation has driven the growth of new sales analytics to show what interests customers and where they are in the buyer’s journey. This understanding is essential for businesses to reach out to prospects or customers at the right moment with the right purpose. Applying a prescriptive approach on top of that then tells you which responses will have the most success based on behaviors and interests.
The future – blending sales with science
Salesforce Research predicts there will be a 58 percent increase in sales analytics use from 2015 to 2016, and that 74 percent of sales leaders are currently using or planning to pilot sales analytics in the next 12-18 months.
Of sales analytics, Aberdeen Group found that organizations that use analytics capabilities to link historical data to current scenarios perform better than their counterparts. By applying prescriptive analytics, these organizations have better lead conversion and increase opportunities for revenue from existing accounts.
Analytics already have a strong foothold in B2C and are the reason behind the personalized experiences we all have come to expect. B2B buyers want the same level of service and understanding that they get in the B2C world. Sophisticated analytics – leveraging a prescriptive approach – are becoming essential to show modern businesses the right way to effectively engage with and serve customers and drive their own business success in the “Age of the Customer.”
Suresh Balasubramanian is CEO for LiveHive, Inc., whose complete sales acceleration platform empowers sales leaders with deep buyer-based engagement analytic insights into the effectiveness of their team’s sales efforts. Suresh is a seasoned software industry executive with more than 20 years of operations and senior management experience. Before LiveHive, Suresh served as CEO for Armor5, and GM worldwide at Adobe Software.