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How to Make the Leap from Data Rich to Data Driven

Got data? Of course, you do. Most companies are drowning in it.

But useful data? That’s a different story.

“Talk to brand executives or decision makers today and no one’s really saying they don’t have enough data,” said Dan Leahy, co-founder and CEO of retail product decision platform MakerSights. “But ask people within a brand responsible for bringing products to market: ‘Do you have the data at your fingertips important to guide the actual decisions you need to make?’ then the results are a lot more mixed.”

The need for actionable data is more urgent than ever. As legacy brands increasingly compete with digital counterparts that boast six-month lead times and one-to-one consumer relationships, it’s imperative for direct-to-consumer brands and retailers to deliver the right product at the right time. This requires them to become much more consumer informed.

Yet despite spending millions of dollars to become data rich with new information, teams responsible for building product assortments continue to move blindly. In fact, when it comes to digitizing the business, building consumer responsiveness within product creation and speeding up go-to market processes, many companies remain unsure of how to get there, or even what they’re trying to achieve.

The process of bringing products to market is highly complex. It requires aligning various functions in different regions, and also orienting around a calendar. But while some teams are proficient in executing market research, if they aren’t integrated with the people who are actually making product decisions, it’s hard for that data to guide the most useful decision making.

What you see more often, noted Leahy, are reports unveiled twice a year at seasonal kickoff meetings, but they contain macro data on where the consumer is trending. The companies don’t have the data that’s helping support the tangible—and impactful—decisions that need to be made, or the flexibility to act on a trend that’s more of the moment. “More data might indicate you need to produce 20,000 units of a particular style, which would be doubling down on a different trend than initially revealed,” he said.

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There’s a lack of systems and processes to take that data and push it upstream in a timely fashion and in a format that companies can execute on.

“The biggest impediment to making data actionable is how to actually operationalize the data,” Leahy said. “How do you build it into your actual day to day processes? Data can’t be something to wax poetic about to investors at your first strategic offsite. It has to be something that affects the day to day, and that means it has to be delivered in a really tight timeline.”

Another point, Leahy noted, is that platforms and the data they gather must be forward looking.

“You think of a traditional product lifecycle management (PLM) system as being a source of record for the things that I’ve done, or the things that I’m doing,” he said. “But what it’s not, is helping you decide what I should do.”

Watch the conversation between MakerSights’ co-founder and CEO Dan Leahy and Sourcing Journal founder and president Edward Hertzman to discover:

  • The difference between being rich with consumer information and rich in consumer responsiveness
  • Why generalized analytical tools can’t adequately help a retailer sku rationalize to optimize assortments
  • How workflow needs to change to foster a more agile way of working
  • How breaking down silos within the company is absolutely essential today for faster decision making
  • How New Balance is embracing and acting on the new data yielded by its recent shift to 50 percent digital
  • How acquiring small direct-to-consumer brands can help big retailers go to market faster

Click the image above to learn how to make your data work for you in the most efficient manner.