A peek into the new reality of digital customer experience, and the role of real-time data and analytics.

The socio-economic impact of COVID-19 provides a glimpse of a future reality where digital channels become the primary means of driving a business forward.

This makes it crucial for business to effectively leverage customer data and digital behavior to better engage them online in the ‘new normal’. Like it or not, the digital economy is upon us!

Mimrah Mahmood, Senior Director & Partner, Meltwater

To find out how real-time data and analytics can help businesses in the region navigate the current landscape and prepare for the future, DigiconAsia discussed a few questions with Mimrah Mahmood, Senior Director & Partner at media intelligence firm Meltwater.

Should businesses in Asia Pacific double-down on adoption of digital tools and solutions in the current landscape? Why?

Mimrah: By now, most, if not all, businesses should already be using some sort of digital technology in their day-to-day operations. We’re well into the 4th Industrial Revolution, and it calls for a fundamental change in the ways that we live, work, and interact with each other.

Technology is evolving at a pace we’ve never seen before. Amidst the pandemic, the world has made five years worth of progress in consumer and business digital adoption in just eight weeks. Although 73% of APAC organizations are currently in the early to mid-stages of digital transformation, a new survey by Ernst & Young reports that in two years’ time, 87% of them will be well advanced on their digital transformation journeys, ahead of their counterparts in Europe and the Americas.

So, the clear answer is yes. To keep up with competitors, to stay relevant across the landscape, to retain talent and to attract customers, business must double-down on digital solutions – and they should have started yesterday.

How could organizations leverage real-time data to stay agile in a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic?

Mimrah: The key behind real-time data is exactly that: it’s real-time. In the midst of the pandemic, customer behavior is constantly changing and, in many cases, for good. Now that familiar patterns and norms have been subverted, businesses have to make sense of this new normal, continuing to run operations smoothly, respond to customer demands, and meet employee expectations all while segueing into an unprecedented consumer climate.

In this rapidly evolving landscape, businesses need to be in the loop of community conversations to stay on top of the latest and emerging industry trends, and to ensure they are never caught off guard. For example, while it might have been difficult to foresee a worldwide pandemic and fully grasp its implications, a recent Meltwater analysis of Singapore’s online and media community shows that conversations around digital payments have been on the rise since COVID-19 first reached our shores in January. Businesses that notice these trends can become early adopters, ensuring that they lead the change instead of being left behind.

This ability to evaluate changing industry and competitive factors in real time allows brands to surface threats and opportunities as they arise, enabling business leaders to make proactive decisions.

How should organizations merge external data with internal business insights to better guide decision making? Why is “outside insights” business-critical?

Mimrah: External data and internal business insights work hand-in-hand to give businesses a 360-degree view of the landscape they’re operating in. The problem is that businesses can sometimes neglect the value of outside insights. Since internal data typically comes from looking at owned customer data and historical performance metrics, using just that is like driving a car while looking only in the rear-view mirror. 

External data scrutinizes online breadcrumbs – such as comments left on a brand’s social media page, or trending topics across the new or social media platforms – to offer a comprehensive understanding of a brand’s position in the wider industry. Listening tools like Meltwater leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze, provide context to, and derive insights from the massive amount of external data found on the internet. These outside insights supplement internal businesses data. Together, they broaden a business’s perspective and allow them to make more informed decisions.

What, in your opinion, is the role of data and analytics in the ‘new normal’ business world?

Mimrah: In the midst of rapid changes, immediate access to industry trends and performance insights can become the difference between the company that thrives amidst the pandemic and one that is forced to shut down. Data can help businesses make key decisions, reach its customers, connect with other businesses, and stand out as a leader.

We know that the future of product discovery is customer-centric. Without data on customer search trends, consumer behavior, and social listening, how can brands speak to their customers? Without data on industry trends, competitor performance and product landscape, businesses cannot forge ahead as leaders in their field.

Analytics is crucial because today’s insights can drive solutions for tomorrow, and it’s something that can be accessed and leveraged across an enterprise.