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Article by Stephen DuCharme Managing Partner

We believe that data is the new oil. This vast, untapped reservoir represents limitless potential value. Yet, in its crude state it poses real challenges for business.

The consumer landscape has changed. The emergence of social media has meant that nowadays everyone leaves a trace – a trace that has become the lifeblood of business. Customer control of the content generated and consumed on digital channels is constantly increasing, so understanding their behaviour is essential.

The social media trail can be read to discover passions, media consumed, influencers, and brands engaged with. Until cultural understanding of customer motivations and aspirations is reached, a brand cannot make itself relevant. Gain this understanding, and you can see your brand through the eyes of your customers.

There is more to understanding your customers than an in-depth knowledge of their past behaviours. But this is what most customer insight teams will do: they are glorified management information teams, manipulating historic data to determine some proxy personalisation.

Without storytelling, data offers just a rear-view mirror. Next-generation customer insight will bring personality to big data; it will go beyond backward-looking internal customer information, using social and market data simultaneously to identify communities based on shared passions, interests and behaviour. This precise segmentation will be invaluable in developing a customer engagement strategy; it will inform board-level decisions and impact the customer experience.