It’s become a business cliche but it remains true: data is the ‘oil’ of the digital economy. Data enables everything in the digital marketplace, it is the means by which every company or organization can become more effective, efficient, customer centric, and innovative. It should come as no surprise that harnessing data capabilities is the business imperative of the next few years. Here are three data areas on which every organization should be focusing:

Customer Centric Feedback Loop
Data allows a company or organization to keep an extremely close eye on customers via sales data, marketing data, customer service data, etc. First up, this facilitates cross selling, upselling, and improving retention rates but it also allows companies to become more customer centric. The detailed feedback loop that can be created via customer data allows each company to keep track of their customer needs. In an age of constant digital disruption, keeping an extremely watchful eye on customers and continually innovating to meet their needs is the best way to avoid being broadsided by digital disruption.

New Products, New Markets
Data represents a tremendous opportunity for every company or organization to create new products and enter new markets. It has opened the doors for collaboration as internal and external data sources can go into the development of nearly any type of product or service. A fantastic example is media giant Viacom’s recent collaboration with American Express. Viacom’s data-driven adtech platform Vantage is being combined with American Express’s anonymized data on over $1 trillion worth of transactions. The joint data teams are aiming to create, according to Viacom, “predictive insights about the buying preferences and patterns of a desired consumer population... this creates advanced audience segments for advertisers that optimize ad placements to target audiences across Viacom channels using its proprietary targeting engine that can anticipate consumer intent before it is made.” Viacom’s collaboration is a smart example of using two different data sources to create new revenue streams, while for American Express it’s a smart example of the monetization of data exhaust.

All Functions, All Departments
The scope of actionable data used to be fairly small and used for primary purposes. For example, companies can very easily use sales transaction data to gain insights and transform into a more a data driven sales team. Expanding the scope of data beyond primary use, using data across all functions and all departments for a diverse set of goals, is what every company and organization should be innovating towards.

Complex and cross-functional data infrastructure is expensive but these structures soon help to directly drive revenue via continuous internal improvements. The most forward thinking companies are now developing platforms for their data much like the way that there is an internal email platform or accounting platform. Data is set to be such a core competency of digital business, giving all employees data platform access allows for the diffusion of actionable information throughout an organization. This information rich environment better allows for the C-suite to steer the ship, especially through rough waters.