The power of user indulgence lies in its recognition of our whims, weaknesses and inherent contradictions. Indulgent design allows products and services to dovetail with life as it is actually lived which, in turn, enables brands to form genuine and lasting customer connections.
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” That inspiring Mike Tyson quote sums up 2020 pretty well, I’d say. The global pandemic, civil unrest, hurricanes, wildfires, political turbulence and more dashed organizations’ well-laid 2020 plans by April.
Regardless of industry, age, size, structure, scale or strategy, every business has had to pivot in significant ways this year, with many shuttering altogether. Our customers have more challenges than ever, and the security industry is better positioned to help them through this more than most.
As our industry continues embracing software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions for increased speed and efficiency, Big Data and mining data insights are critical components of that. Businesses may have exabytes of data in disparate databases, controlled by different stakeholders with different priorities.
It may seem like an insurmountable challenge, but mining through this data is incredibly powerful and the insights gleaned can be transformative — both internally and externally.
Increasing Internal Efficiencies With Big Data
Leaders are always looking for ways to scale their business and data mining can help do that with integrity. With it, we as integrators can guide and impact: Customer retention, pricing strategy, sales efficiency, product commercialization, marketing effectiveness, lead generation, operational efficiency, nuisance alarm reduction, service plan expansion, installation and service scheduling, threshold management, practically every aspect of a business can benefit.
How does the number of truck rolls affect customer retention? To what extent do the various lengths of service contracts increase closing ratios? How does sales tenure affect pricing discounts and how does that impact customer satisfaction?
These are just a few questions that mining through 20 or 30 variables can help answer. Some may seem completely unrelated at first and even counterintuitive. Over time, though, you will become a believer in the power of data, as it starts answering questions you never even thought to ask.
Another example could be the future of prospecting. Systems that mine social media, press releases and hundreds of other sources can prepare a dossier on your leads in real time. How long has your prospect been in her role as vice president? What permits were pulled recently at her location? What competitors pulled the permits?
A simple list of names and emails will not be good enough. The data is all available and often free; the difficult part is collecting and visualizing it. However, Big Data mining makes scraping through all of this data not only available but digestible.
Delivering Big Value to Your Customers
One of the most powerful uses of Big Data mining in our industry is by adding value beyond our security offerings. Customers expect their security providers to do this even if they have not specifically asked, and this service can be commercialized as a significant revenue stream for your business.
Retail has embraced Big Data for years. An example: Using video analytics data to determine end cap efficiency and associate response time to improve the customer experience and boost sales. Then mining that data to predict which products will sell best. All of this is done months in advance of shopping seasons. It is so much more than just installing a camera looking down an aisle; this example could include tracking 30 data points to build predictive models.
Additionally, in today’s environment, there’s an increased focus on the next generation of visitor management. Gone may be the days of the receptionist asking your business, the front desk tracking sheet and visitors wandering around the lobby and hallways.
Today’s customers are looking for solutions for temperature checking, contract tracing and lobby management — all of which are integrated into their existing access control, HR and telephony systems, and are kiosk-based, contactless and powered by an app.
Your job as a security professional is to not only deliver that solution but to understand how you can use this data to, for example, extract occupancy information, leading to power management savings (which your customers’ leadership teams are likely interested in, since many of their offices may be empty now). You’re increasing your value to their organization exponentially by using Big Data to fuel cost savings and increase their return on investment.
Whether you’re a global integrator or a one-man shop, you can begin mining the Big Data that you already have. It may seem overwhelming at first: Your monitoring, technician, sales, marketing, human resource and customer data may all live in spreadsheets or disparate SQL databases somewhere.
As you discover what data is where and how accurate it is, start forming a team. Bring together internal leaders and talk to customers about their troubles. Is it subcontractor quality, missing truck stock, vendor issues? Whatever it is, chances are that you have datasets available that could help.
Larger integrators may consider hiring a data scientist to join their team as well. The ROI for such a position can easily be justified, as their value will only increase over time. If you’re part of a smaller organization and hiring a dedicated team member is not possible, consider bringing on a consultant.
Freelance sites are amazing resources to screen and vet candidates based on your interests, preferences and budget. Start going through the data, and then get creative.
However and wherever you start, just take the first step. Big Data mining will be more important tomorrow than it is today — this is only the beginning for integrators.
Brandon Beal, CPP, is Sales Operations Manager at Stanley Security.