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Why you should invest in your employees

on August 8, 2016

Delivering Impactful Customer Research

on February 25, 2014

As a predictive analytics team, we at CAN take the science behind Big Data very seriously, but that doesn’t mean that our whole process is centered around the software we create. In fact, we prioritize our relationships with our customers on a human level, and do our best to educate them about what we do best: data. The following article is an educational piece for our customers to learn more about CAN and CAN’s process. 

 

With technology developing so quickly, new ways to implement marketing strategies and more effectively reach consumers are popping up all the time. Predictive analysis is one such technique. Praised for its ability to inform companies of future trends and reveal important information, predictive analysis is growing in popularity, with 87 percent of B2B marketing leaders saying they had already implemented or were planning to implement predictive analytics in the coming 12 months. So what is predictive analysis and how can it benefit you? Let’s check out the details of this new process sweeping its way through the business world.

 

What Is Predictive Analysis?

 

Before fleshing out its benefits, it’s probably best to first explain what predictive analysis is: through data mining, statistics, modeling, machine learning and artificial intelligence, predictive analysis is a process for collecting and analyzing current data. To learn more about how CAN uses predictive analysis, check out our blog post here.

As a result, brands are able to interpret big data and uncover patterns and relationship regarding consumer behavior. For example, the latest mobile technology, such as the Samsung Galaxy S7, has developed sophisticated and compressive methods to retrieve such data from app behavior and mobile activity. With mobile being such a popular device choice for consumers, this is beneficial for retrieving fast and relevant information.

 

How Can Predictive Analysis Benefit Marketing and Sales?

 

  1. More Efficient Customer Acquisition

By providing your sales team with specific data, predictive analysis can allow them to acquire new customers and keep old ones more efficiently and with less cost. What journey do they take to purchase a product? What advertising do they respond to? What is it about your product/service that they enjoy the most? All these questions can be answered by analyzing previous data and drawing conclusions about future activity. This information can then be used to determine which customers to reach out and how best to appeal to them, saving time and money.

 

  1. Determine Up-sell Opportunities

Predictive analysis also assists in drawing conclusions about other aspects of your customers’ buying behavior. Through analysis, brands can better understand what their customers’ needs are and what exactly they’re looking for. This can then be used to tailor the sales and marketing strategy to specific customers.

For example, if you are a fashion brand and have customers who are in need of shoes, it would be inefficient and wasteful to send them an advertisement for a new shoe promotion. Instead, it would be better to send this to customers in need of footwear to maximize on profit.

 

  1. Optimize Marketing Strategy

Not only can predictive analysis benefit brands by helping to find information on customers, it can also help in regards to the market environment. You can learn what time of the year spending peaks, how much people are spending and what they’re spending their money on. This information can assist in the successful execution of marketing strategies by ensuring you are targeting the right people at the right time.

Or you can figure out where to score the most candy on Halloween, like CAN did here. See, predictive analysis can be fun too.

 

Predictive analysis is an increasingly popular method for brands to more effectively initiate sales and marketing strategies. By providing detailed information about market trends and buying behavior, brands can cut costs, boost profit and increase overall efficiency.

 

Hooked on predictive analysis? We’d love to chat with you! Contact Nate Watson via e-mail at nate@canworksmart.com.


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Predictive Analysis: What Is It And How Can It Benefit You?

on January 25

The Omaha Data Science Academy

on June 22, 2016

Investing in employees means more than just treating them well by giving them benefits and a flexible schedule. It means putting time and resources into individuals who have potential for greatness, but may need a little guidance.

 

More and more companies find it strategic to invest in their employees, even if it means allowing them to move on to greener pastures when the time comes. These companies care about the personal and career growth of their individual employees. They don’t back away from new talent who may need a little training. They see opportunity in new hires, unlike most who are afraid to waste money on training.

 

One such company is Contemporary Analysis (CAN). CAN provides predictive analytics to businesses with needs to unlock patterns in their data. President Nate Watson committed to investing in employees from the beginning. The result of his investments is the substantive alumni network of CAN.

 

Alumni networks are the metaphorical badges of honor for companies committed to their employees’ growth. Employees may move on to other businesses or start their own companies, but they continue to maintain positive relationships with companies like CAN who invested so much in their future. Past employees reach out to the network for advice, giving them a makeshift peer network even when they are the only data scientist in their company.

 

Watson comments, “By investing in our employees’ future, we get people not only willing to go the extra mile for us, but access to employees who have the tenacity to figure out how to solve problems. We lose really good talent, but a lot of the contracts we have right now are from companies that have our former employees in them.”

 

The opening comic portrays the decision to invest in employees perfectly: CFO: “What if we train them and they leave?” CEO: “What if we don’t…and they stay?” Companies like CAN know that whether employees stay or leave, resources are not wasted.

 

CAN doesn’t wait for the most highly trained analysts to walk through the door. CAN nurtures potential with patience for greatness.

 

Some companies make the switch to investing in their employees years after they begin operations. For CAN, commitment to training employees is embedded in their DNA.

 

Nine years ago, the same people who rely on data analysis to keep their companies moving today had never even thought of hiring a data analyst. This was during the recession. As a result, a lot of creative people with experience in data science were out of work.

 

Grant Stanley is the former CEO of CAN. Stanley saw the small pool of highly driven, intelligent, but under employed people as something special–something with which he could start a company.  

 

He then built CAN, the now 9 year old predictive analytics company. Stanley and his non-traditional co-workers would approach companies like Mutual of Omaha or West and say, “Give us the hardest problem you have and let us have a crack at solving it.” Many times they would get an opportunity because a solution was already tried by the “regulars” and failed. Giving CAN a chance provided no risk and very little outlay of cash.

 

Stanley is now CEO of Bric, a software company originally designed for small companies that now helps Fortune 500 companies plan and project manage using predictive analytics.

 

CAN approached the solution differently even from day one. Many times it felt like crash a course in learning the models necessary to succeed. However, CAN’s employees were already good at learning. They looked for solutions, sometimes in other verticals and industries, and applied that knowledge back to the original problem.

 

They found success even though they were younger and less funded than some of their well known competition. This problem solving ideology has become a cornerstone of how CAN does business, even to this day.

 

After years of solving difficult problem after difficult problem, the young data scientists were well trained. They now had resumes to qualify for more prestigious positions, even CEO or management positions. CAN learned to cope with employees moving on. They started an alumni network to capture the excitement of the “graduation” of the employees. The alumni network now boasts 15 former employees in 13 companies.

 

Nate Watson maintains the same mindset of investing in employees for CAN today.

 

If you look at CAN now, Watson has changed very little. Yes, CAN today has more resources and more consistent work, but their motto still reflects their passion to make businesses better: “Empower the great to build something greater.” This is not only true for how they work with clients, but also how they treat their employees. They aren’t afraid to smile and wave goodbye as their best employees seek other opportunities. That’s why they have such a strong alumni network.

 

In fact, last month CAN announced the start of the Omaha Data Science Academy (Oma-DSA), the ultimate goal of which is to train and place a data scientists in every company in Omaha. Their goal is not to replace the four year degree, but provide training for those who need an extra push before they become entry-level data scientists.The DSA’s motto of “Building Smarter Talent” likens back to Watson and CAN’s original mantra. 

 

Further on down the road, of course, there will be an alumni network for the Data Science Academy. Watson comments, “We want each cohort to be able to connect every cohort as they move between companies and up in each company. Having that peer network is going to be key to the success of graduates.”

 

Watson hopes that the Oma-DSA will inspire even more businesses to invest in their employees.

 

–The Oma-DSA’s Alpha class starts September 19th–the graduation party, already RSVP’d by some of the most forward thinking companies in the surrounding area, will be on December 8th.

 

CAN isn’t the only business with an impressive alumni network. Strong alumni networks like CAN’s, however, do seem unique to the tech world.

 

Aron Filbert at Lyconic is proof of this. Lyconic provides software designed to improve security guard management. Lyconic’s products are proven to increase accountability and decrease turnover rates among guards. 

 

Filbert needed a talented software developer to create Lyconic. However, he knew that he could not compete with the corporate world in pay. He gave his employees other perks to make up for this, like casual dress, time off, a lax work schedule, fluidity in moving up at Lyconic, and so on.

 

These other perks, in particular Filbert’s commitment to train and grow with his employees, helped Lyconic build a strong alumni network. Filbert’s greatest success story is a man named Carl Zulauf. He worked for Lyconic for a little over one year, gaining valuable experience alongside Filbert.

 

He moved on to a start-up company in New York City where he was compensated very well.

 

Filbert speaks of Zulauf with pride, not resentment. This is what makes Lyconic and CAN’s alumni network unique to growing tech world: they believe in each other, and that leads to success for everyone. Most businesses only care about the success of their company, not the growth of individuals.

 

Three significant results of having an alumni network.

 

Companies use their alumni networks in different ways. Since the beginning, CAN noted three positive and long-lasting results for their alumni network.

 

The physical result: CAN’s alumni network includes some of the biggest names in Omaha as well as some of the most promising startups. Names like HDR, Avantas, TD Ameritrade, Kiewit, Flywheel, and even Ebay are sporting former CAN employees. As well as 4 founders of data science software companies: Eric Burns at GazellaWifi, Luis Lopez at Crumb, Grant Stanley at Bric, and James Rolfsen at Kojuba. With each movement out, a vacancy occurs that can be filled is filled by new employees that need only training and an opportunity.

 

The social impact: The alumni network is an active and working peer connection hub. Former employees of CAN left on positive terms which means they still keep in touch and occasionally ask for help on projects or advice on business moves. The reverse is true as well: CAN doesn’t hesitate to reach out to the alumni network with questions and advice.

 

The emotional fulfillment: As Watson continues to invest in his employees and sees other companies like Lyconic do the same, he feels a deep sense of pride for the community CAN helped build.

 

As more and more companies make the switch to investing in employees, what does the future of business look like?

 

Investing in employees allows companies to retain the value of each individual, even after they are gone. As more businesses decide that money spent on staff training is money well spent, their pool of resources grows beyond their own company. Their former employees continue to have value in an alumni network. In a sense, by investing in employees you never really have to cut the cord when they move on from your business. This doesn’t get rid of competitiveness between companies completely, but it does allow different businesses to act as support for each other’s growth.

 

Watson of CAN ends with this note, “Investing in people will always be my personal mantra. I hope it continues to permeates the atmosphere of CAN, the Oma-DSA, and the Data Science Community long after I’m gone.”

 

You learn. You move up. You let go. You come back and talk shop. You train someone else. You maintain connections and continue to encourage each other. That’s CAN. That’s the Oma-DSA. That Lyconic. That’s all companies committed to individual achievement. That’s the beauty of investing in employees.


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on August 8, 2016
Delivering Impactful Customer Research

I spent last week at a conference focused on customer research. There were +1,000 researchers in attendance, mostly from Fortune 1000 companies. They were brilliant — discovering insights that could lead to better products, more satisfied customers, and higher profits.

The problem is that their customer research isn’t able to produce results. Disappointed, I started to think about how researchers could make more of an impact on the organization.

My first thought was that researchers are not senior executives. Perhaps researchers should give senior executives the responsibility, training, and tools to conduct their own customer research? It’s an interesting idea — a lot of vendors are promoting self-service business intelligence — but how feasible is it? If you give executives the power to do research without proper and extensive training, you are going to have an organization led by misinformation. Read more…


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The Predictive Analytics Revolution – Are you sitting on the sidelines?

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Why you should update predictive models

on August 14, 2013

Everyday new information is being created in your business. Your customers are buying more, subscribing or unsubscribing, and before you know it your customers today are seemingly different than the customer you had the day before.

As these new patterns emerage its important to periodically take time to investigate your data, update your predictive models, and challenge the assumptions about your business going forward. But how often should you do this? To answer that question, consider the following:

  • How often is my data changing?
  • How often do I plan on making decisions with the data?

Read more…



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Why you should invest in your employees

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I recently had to make a deposit and fix a small issue with my bank account. I think my community bank has maybe 5 locations in the entire midwest, which means that everyone is cheery and I can always expect christmas lights in the winter and maybe cookies on the table when I walk in there. The staff are attentive and wonderful and always call me sir. “Is there anything else we can do for you, sir?”

Yes. Yes, local community banks, there is something you can do. But it’s less for me and more for you.

The smiles are great and sometimes I consider visiting the bank if for no other reason than to be surrounded by people who’s job seems to be to boost my self esteem at all costs and make me forget the cruel, harsh realities of this world. It is icing on an otherwise mundane task of paying the bank a visit.

But do you think this is why customers are staying with you? Read more…


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Customer Experience Metrics

on September 17, 2012

Examples of How to Improve Your Customer Experience

on September 18, 2012

How to Calculate Customer Lifetime Value and Cost of Customer Acquisition

on November 29, 2012

While many business make substantial investments to improve customer acquisition, they often fail to invest in improving their customer lifetime value.  Customer lifetime value is the average monthly net profit per customer divided by the monthly churn rate.  Learn how to calculate customer lifetime value here.  Companies can increase customer lifetime value by making investments to improve customer loyalty, crossing selling, and up-selling.

Improving customer loyalty, reducing customer churn, allows you to increase net new sales.  Net new sales = # of New Customers – Customer Churn.  Your sales and marketing teams work hard to bring in new customers, and customer churn erodes their efforts.  Fortunately, improving customer loyalty and reducing customer churn, increases the return on investment from customer acquisition, improving your customer lifetime value.

To reduce customer churn, you need to know each of your customers.  You need to know who is most likely to leave and why.  Knowing who is most likely to leave allows you to contact them before they leave.  Knowing why people leave, allows you to fix your systems.  The who is a short-term fix, the why is a long-term fix.  For small companies, knowing the who and why might be obvious.  However, for companies with thousands or millions of customers this becomes very difficult.  

Let’s look at the impact of increasing customer loyalty on revenue.   Read more…


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Predictive Analysis: What Is It And How Can It Benefit You?

on January 25

Why you should invest in your employees

on August 8, 2016

To CAN, servicing smart means helping create a smart customer experience. Its not just us though. More and more companies are realizing customers value a great customer experience and that they are no longer making decisions based solely on “is it cheap?”.

To succeed in this new world, companies have to do things to make their company stand out. They have to make their company the one that customers want to do business with again and again. A good place to get started improving your customer experience is creating a set of standards for your customer service.

What does it take to have a “great customer experience”?

Read more…


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Predictive Analysis: What Is It And How Can It Benefit You?

on January 25

Why you should invest in your employees

on August 8, 2016

What do you do with customers once you get them?  Many times customers are only contacted again at a yearly review or if they have had a problem.  This passive customer experience doesn’t help you improve sales.  Your customers end up with a relationship with a customer service representative instead of you, their salesperson.  Why is that?  Why do we let customers that took blood, sweat, and tears to find and sell, be pushed to the back of our subconscious, never to reemerge? There needs to be a different way. Sales people need to inject themselves into the customer experience.

Predictive analytics allows you to use your data to find hidden patterns inside your customer experience cycle.  Using these patterns you can work smart to reengage current clients at the right time with the right products/services.  This will allow you to close more sales, more profitable sales, and even keep them from going to a competitor. Read more…


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on January 6, 2012

How to Increase Customer Lifetime Value

on December 10, 2012

How can you measure the effectiveness of your customer experience? What impact does it have on profitability, loyalty and purchasing activity?  Companies are increasing relying on their customer experience to differentiate themselves in increasingly competitive markets. In 2008, 64% of companies listed Customer Experience as having a critical role in their strategy (Forrester Research 2008).

Creating a smart customer experience can be hard enough.  Measuring your customers’s experience can be even more challenging.  Customer Experience Metrics have to go beyond traditional call center metrics to capture customer loyalty, satisfaction.  They have to measure intangible concepts, complex interactions, over large amounts of time.  Need help?

Examples of Customer Experience Metrics Include: Read more…



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