For marketing teams, data analytics is proving to be the ultimate problem-solver

The convergence of the internet and mobile channels have produced something never seen before: customers who want to be able to buy products of their choice from anywhere at any time, and in the event of any issue they expect service immediately. 

For salespeople and marketers, the multichannel shopper has been both a gift and a curse. They have more platforms than ever to reach their customer base and are no longer confined by the physical location of brick-and-mortar stores. But for some sales and marketing teams, serving such needy consumers can at times feel beyond their capabilities

"As the rapid expansion of data across the enterprise creates headaches for customers and opportunities for innovative vendors, understanding customer needs and vendor capabilities becomes even more critical," said Elizabeth Henlin, an analyst at Technology Business Research (TBR). 

A recent TBR study estimated that investment in business intelligence and analytics software will surpass $25 billion by 2015, a 9 percent growth rate during the next three years. One of the biggest driving forces behind this growth, the report found, is the need to analyze data to improve sales numbers and customer retention.

In the case of Ireland-based mobile telecommunications company O2, business intelligence has paid enormous dividends with regard to retaining its current customer base

"We want to invest in the customers we can influence and the customers who are really engaging with us," Peter McKenna, head of BI at 02, recently told ComputerWeekly. 

About six years ago, McKenna said O2 Ireland was using a decentralized data analytics system. This led to "a very high-cost IT infrastructure, decisions that didn't make sense" and information that wasn't always available when needed.

02 has more than 130 different systems that produce datasets on a daily basis, according to the news source. With customers using more platforms than ever before, organizing that information without a centralized system would have been futile. 

McKenna said that a few years ago, the company decided to invest in a unified warehouse. So far, the results have been overwhelmingly positive, with the benefits extending beyond just having more organized datasets. 

"It was a very effective initiative in driving people in [to stores] at the right time," McKenna told the news source.

And once companies are able to get those customers into the store, data analytics can potentially lead to more sales, according to a recent article by Direct Marketing News. That's because these tools can develop extensive customer profiles that enable employees to pull up an individual's shopping history on the spot. 

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