Franchises hold a wealth of big data that, when utilised, can tremendously boost their success
The world is producing data at a truly phenomenal rate, almost at the speed of light. If all of the data in the world was burned onto DVDs and stacked up, those stacks would reach the moon – twice.
Data is getting bigger, so big that a rather unimaginative term was coined to emphasise just how big it is getting: big data. Nobody can decide exactly what big data is; however, it can mean one thing to one person but something completely different to the next.
Charlie Clark, CEO of Rosslyn Analytics, one of the global leaders in the world of data technologies, feels that big data doesn’t refer to the size of the data, despite its name. “It is the biggest load of marketing sizzle you could ever imagine,” he laughs.
However, it seems that most can agree that big data is made up of large data sets that require the attention of a data don or savvy system in order to analyse, store and capture data. The buzzword is taking centre stage in the world of digital analytics; many franchises are using it to make better business decisions and by doing so are increasing growth and revenue tremendously.
But what can a franchise do to capitalise on the colossal amount of data that it holds at its fingertips?
“The first thing is recognising that you have data. Everybody does. Even if all you have got is personnel records, you’ve got data,” explains Dan Archer, franchise director of Red Flag Alert, the online business information bureau that helps business owners utilise their data to help businesses make informed decisions.
Red Flag Alert not only provides a service for other businesses to optimise data but it is also a prime example of a franchise that has made big data work for it. As an advocate of the systemisation and analysis of data within its own franchise, it has been able to expand into further territories and gather more clients.
“My franchisees are different to many franchisees in that every single franchisee at Red Flag Alert knows where every single one of their customers are,” says Archer. “Because that’s what we do: we understand which customers are the better customers to be dealing with.”
Creating the system yourself to manage big data will certainly give you the upper hand but with the number of affordable services out there rising, franchises have more opportunities than ever before to compete with the big boys and harness the power of big data.
“One of the mantras that we have in the business is that data is useless,” explains Archer. “If you organise it to make it easy to interrogate, it becomes information. If you make it relevant for a particular individual or organisation, then it becomes intelligence.”
Data will not reveal anything useful unless you mine it yourself. Clark feels that the best way to unlock the potential of data is to establish what exactly it is that you want to achieve; and growth will probably feature pretty high on the agenda. “If used correctly, data can greatly increase your chances of success,” he says. “Therefore, if a franchisor is able to have an analytics and data centre of excellence from which to service their franchisees, it’s going to be incredibly attractive for someone to then invest their money in buying a franchise.”
Big data is best digested when broken down into small chunks. But without a doubt, the most valuable data will come from a franchise’s customers. It could reveal things like spending habits, as well as what products or promotions work.
Getting into the heads of customers themselves is very difficult but it is possible through customer surveys and analysing the records of that customer’s spend within a franchise. “You want to be able to survey and track that customer in real time,” explains Clark. “If you are able to track in real time, you are going to have an advantage over all of the other companies trying to sell something to that customer.”
Data can also be analysed and augmented to create a unique profile on each customer. Combining that customer’s demographic profile, spending habits and the feedback from customer surveys can reveal exactly how to market to that customer in the future.
One often overlooked source of data is the data that comes from social media. The digital natives of today often take to Twitter and Facebook to rave about their latest meal or purchase and, by allowing franchises to sift through the lives of others, social media can produce volumes of insightful data. “People are aware that there is some value in this data. It is coming up on the radar and it is coming to the forefronts of people’s minds,” says Miles Cook, CTO of Blurrt, the analytics firm.
Cook reveals that truly unleashing the golden nuggets that lie within social data requires more than seeing that your franchise has lots of mentions. Cook advises that delving deeper into analytics and deciphering who has mentioned you, whether the mention is positive or negative and the different trends over a period of time can reveal a wealth of insightful information to better market your product to the public.
Unlocking big data is tough but with the right system in place, franchises can gain an edge over competitors. But what must be understood is that data does change and with the rate that data is currently being produced, what is relevant now might not be relevant in a few months’ time.
The ever-changing data landscape that comes with growing technology capacity will require even the most beady-eyed franchises to constantly be on the ball.
With the world’s data constantly growing and new technologies being created at more affordable prices, franchises can learn more and more about data. The possibilities genuinely are endless. “We don’t know how much you can do with the data because we just keep finding more and more things to do,” explains Cook.
But gaining an insight will be all for nothing if you don’t act on your newfound knowledge.
Archer’s crucial tip to other franchises is to make sure that they use the insight that they have got in order to be more productive in business. “Its about organising your data correctly and augmenting it by bringing in extra information and extra insight,” he says.