Data analytics is the new black

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This post originally appeared as Data analytics is the new black on our COO, Carlos Meléndez, Under Development blog at InfoWorld and is reprinted with permission from IDG.

It isn’t often that a B2B technology company adopts the same business model as a buzz-worthy fashion e-commerce site, but with the necessity of data analytics now being recognized by companies across all industries, that may be changing. Take Revolve, for example. The online retail giant was just featured in a recent Fortune article, which focused on one of the key differentiators between the company and their competitors: knowing what the trends are.

How do they do this? In part by hiring trendy interns with an eye for fashion, but also by analyzing data in a creative way, in this case online search terms among their target demographic. It was through this method of data analysis that company co-founders launched the brand by offering sought-after designer denim, something that consumers were searching for in droves, but not finding, online.

So what does Revolve’s success mean for companies in other industries? And how can your average B2B technology company, product manufacturer or professional services company adopt this model?

  • Be one step ahead: Obviously, Revolve is not alone in their industry, or others, in the fact that they use data to make important business decisions. What sets them apart, however, is that they are using data to not only analyze what their customers are doing now, but also to predict where the market is going and what their customers will be doing next. For example, when they saw other retailers discounting certain items, like Juicy Couture sweatsuits, they would stop carrying them completely and move onto the next big thing.
  • Know where to look: Revolve has found success in tracking customer trends through reviewing search data, but that may not be the exact parallel for all companies. If you’re a B2B technology company, maybe you’re instead analyzing industry data like VC investments to see what competing technologies are coming down the pipeline with features that your customers are likely to be asking for.
  • Back it up: Especially when you’re collecting data from alternative sources, it’s important to validate it before acting on it. In Revolve’s case this was by soft-sounding it with their hip interns, but your company will likely want to go through more traditional channels, like running a test campaign with your customer base.

It’s no secret that data drives smart business decisions. The key though is to get creative, like Revolve did, in terms of where you’re finding it, and how your company is utilizing it.

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