By Stuart Fisher

WITH business environments today characterized by highly saturated and distributed markets, enhanced customer experiences is key to differentiation and competitive advantage. While digitization inevitably is the path to success, this must be done carefully and with the intention of steering the business to marry smart investments that directly benefit the experience their customers have with the brand.

According to a CX Network report, metrics used to measure customer experience investment challenges across the Asia Pacific prove that clarity around digital strategy is critical to tapping into the opportunities that digitization brings. However, for organizations to be confident of building customer loyalty and retention, efforts must be focused on deriving meaningful business insights from real-time operational data, a combination of analytics and data visualization.

For the modern enterprise that wants to keep pace with evolving demands, operational processing of transactions, interactions and analytics is the cornerstone of delighting customers. Through insightful analytics and impactful data visualization, organizations can identify correlations across variables, allowing for more strategic decision-making that, ultimately, improves the customer experience.

Analytics and data visualization can also be applied to decipher historical data which shine a light on recurring trends and uncover future opportunities. Think about how the frequency of variables can elucidate the minutiae of consumer behavior, such as how and when purchases are made to other supplementary goods that are browsed by customers. This not only facilitates upselling but also discovering new potential markets, as well as opportunities to innovate and improve existing processes and workflows.

Recognizing patterns more efficiently empowers users to comprehend large amounts of data at a glance. With users more sophisticated and expecting more from their digital experiences, businesses need to be able to count on their ability to understand the effectiveness of existing strategies and internal processes. Doubly so, now that the marked uptick in digital-driven trends from the pandemic are likely to remain permanent, according to McKinsey’s Consumer Pulse Survey.

When done right, data visualization boosts sales with existing customers while opening a whole new range of markets and demographics for potential new business. For instance, take the following use cases as proof of how data visualization is driving businesses to be nimble and stay lean:

• Energy: Offshore oil rigs generate a great deal of data that needs to be collected and consolidated. At first glance, it’s filled with difficult-to-decipher decimals and data points, but when it’s converted into a visual graph, it becomes easier to interpret. The data is then segmented based on various attributes including environmental factors, temperature, pressure, flow rate and more. By visualizing the data in a digestible manner using Tableau, for example, users can derive insights that help manage and forecast production and demand for oil. This is particularly important during times with rising gas prices. With the right database and data visualization tool, processing facilities can handle more data, driving real-time analysis that helps oil and gas operations run more efficiently, which is crucial for healthy production rates.

• Healthcare: Hospitals and clinics rely on data visualization to help optimize their revenue. From a data perspective, they are interested in understanding what procedures were being performed, why and when patients are making appointments, how often doctors are seeing patients, etc. Throughout the pandemic, hospitals were fully-booked with COVID patients, but concurrently experienced a decline in scheduled appointments and procedures for visits including nonurgent surgeries and annual check-ups. This has a direct impact on revenue, and with all the new data coming in, simply looking at data tables is not sufficient in drawing meaningful conclusions. Hence, data visualization plays a big role when extracting outliers and insights, especially since healthcare data comes in from various sources including that of service providers, customers and insurance agencies.

• Retail and food: When it comes to the retail and food industries, there’s a laundry list of consumer behaviors to take into consideration when making business decisions: frequency of purchases, clothing sizes and departments, fresh or frozen food — the list goes on. An important metric for retailers is the GMV (gross merchandise value) number which enables them to calculate the allocation of earnings based on the products and variables that are being tracked. When it comes to food safety, data analytics supports the Singapore Food Agency in taking appropriate actions to identify potential food-related risks.

Data visualization is also useful when grocery chains or department stores are developing marketing plans and analyzing how often and when consumers are taking advantage of membership program benefits. When all of these scattered data are pieced together, especially when the platform is able to deliver real-time insights, businesses can thus make forward-thinking decisions that impact overall growth, sales, and customer experience.

Data is the consumers’ story, and visualization tools help piece them together.

Some of the key challenges in implementing analytics involve navigating a complex system, overall costs and the time it takes to get insights. A data visualization and analytics solution needs to be robust, scalable, and simultaneously easy for users to extract conclusions from the data. When data is stored as JSON style documents, complexity is introduced. That’s why, when selecting a data visualization tool, it needs to connect and be compatible with data sources that enable users to unpack intricacies. This includes the ability to handle operational and analytical data from a single system.

An ideal solution should also allow teams to create visualized analytics within a dashboard, for example, which can provide schema and data attributes including character, number and date and time. This format allows the data structures to be more concise and focused. The platform should also have manageability and security, while also enabling affordability in total cost of ownership.

Furthermore, users must be able to address the who, when, what, and where. These variables can be combined and transformed into the appropriate visualization format, just like a heat map, depending on the data. And as data sources grow, the solution should also have the ability to bring in machine learning data and data that are sitting in systems outside of traditional data platforms.

Bottom line, data visualization and analytics empower organizations to develop rich, interactive dashboards and reports to measure their business performance while enabling agile decision-making. By leveraging on NoSQL document data in real time, users can analyze data instantly without the need to perform any data transformations. Data and analytics can be the key for businesses to build brand loyalty and retain customers better. With 64% of consumers in Asia Pacific willing to share personal data for a personalized experience, not leveraging on such data will be a missed opportunity to unlock immense value and innovate faster.


Stuart Fisher is regional vice-president of Couchbase in Asia Pacific and Japan.