Bryant Harland
Bryant Harland has been writing within the technology sector for more than five years, starting with branded white papers and...
Read Full Bio >>

Bryant Harland | October 28, 2014 |


Using Analytics Without Freaking Out Customers

Using Analytics Without Freaking Out Customers As organizations turn to advanced analytics to better understand customer behavior, they'll have to tread carefully on privacy and "creepiness."

As organizations turn to advanced analytics to better understand customer behavior, they'll have to tread carefully on privacy and "creepiness."

A growing air of excitement surrounds the use of advanced business analytics, with many pundits claiming that organizations must be data-driven in order to succeed. Of course, being data-driven is not a new thing. It's just that companies now have the ability to collect, store, and analyze much greater amounts and more varied types of data then ever before possible. So what folks really mean when they say "data-driven" is that companies are beginning to use data in smarter ways.

Historically, for example, an organization may have used descriptive analytics to comb through transactional data from customers. This told them what happened, and why. Now, with today's advanced analytics techniques, they can make predictions about customer behavior and find new ways of creating business value. They can do so by supplementing traditional customer data stored in structured databases with unstructured data contained in contact center records, in Twitter comments or Facebook posts, and in email and voice mail, for example.

The trick is integrating the insight into the contact center or communications platform, and doing so in a way that doesn't jeopardize privacy or result in customer or employee outrage over data use.

Analytics and the privacy tipping point
Customers likely understand on a general level that their communications with businesses aren't entirely private. Many may even recognize the value of letting companies crunch their data. However, there is usually some tipping point where the people being analyzed get that eerie feeling of Big Brother watching them, and that tipping point is usually reached when an organization hits a little too close to home with how it uses its data. Perhaps the most iconic example of this comes from the consumer arena, when Target identified that a teenage girl was pregnant and began marketing maternity products to her all before she had even told her family. The convergence of powerful analytics tools and more robust data sets are making it possible to reveal behavior before customers have made conscious decisions.

In the contact center realm, we're beginning to see how the use of analytics can come into play. A company called SATMAP, for example, analyzes data that's connected to contact center callers' phone numbers to identify demographic and behavioral characteristics. It then matches callers with compatible agents based on their personalities. While that can be a plus, some customers might feel manipulated by use of their data in this manner.

Companies like Google and Facebook that deal with enormous amounts of data have already had to actively fight legislative battles over how to use that data appropriately and how much transparency will be required. It is not a great leap of faith that as more organizations begin diving into customer data, they'll face similar challenges. As businesses do explore analytics more tightly focused on their customers, they should establish frameworks for transparency and dealing with privacy conflicts.

Analyzing the human factor
One of the other issues likely to emerge will come when technology like personality-matching call center analytics tools are widely implemented. The idea of employees who always interact with customers they're most compatible with is reminiscent of the concept author Eli Pariser refers to as filter bubbles. This concept describes the way individuals' Web browsing experience is highly tailored to their personal tastes, such that two people performing Google searches using the same terms can see vastly different results. Many areas of the Web now filter what people will like most based on previous browsing history and habits. Pariser argues that this creates the risk that little of the information online users run into will challenge or broaden their views of the world.

A similar problem may emerge if businesses increasingly tailor the work environments only to their employees' strengths. The short-term benefits of call center representatives never having to interact with a customer whose personality is incompatible with their own are clear: the potential for reduced call time and increased completion rates. Although the long-term effects of this reality remain to be seen, it's feasible that key skills such as problem solving and conflict resolution would decline because these employees wouldn't be using them nearly as much in their daily work.

While analytics technology is powerful and has the potential to aid in decision making, it doesn't reduce the need for critical thinking. In a September 2014 TED Talk, data scientist Susan Ettinger perfectly explained why critical thinking is even more important in the data-driven world:

"As business people, as consumers, as citizens, we have a responsibility, I think, to spend more time focusing on our critical thinking skills. Why? Because at this point in our history, as we've heard many times over, we can process exabytes of data at lightning speeds, and we have the potential to make bad decisions far more quickly, efficiently and with far greater impact than we did in the past," she said.

In other words, advancements in technology have increased the speed at which businesses and people can consume data. However, the end result of those endeavors will greatly depend on our ability to think critically about it. This applies as much to top-level executives making strategic corporate decisions as it does to the call-center agent helping solve a customer problem.


March 7, 2018

Video collaboration is experiencing significant change and innovation-how can your enterprise take advantage? In this webinar, leading industry analyst Ira Weinstein will present detailed analysis

February 21, 2018

Business agility has become the strongest driver for enterprises to begin migrating their communications to the cloud-and its a benefit that enterprises are already realizing. To gain this benefit

February 7, 2018

Enterprises are starting to grasp the critical importance of security and compliance in their team collaboration deployments. And once the risks are mitigated, your enterprise can integrate these n

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.