Data down to the wire
Spark New Zealand wants to turn clients’ innovations into meaningful business insights.
New Zealanders call it the “No.8 wire” mentality. It’s the ability of anyone with a bit of skill and know-how to make anything work with a piece of wire, a trusty old hammer and hard-bitten experience.
Others might say it’s like someone acting like “MacGyver”, based on the US TV action hero with a knack for resolving life-and-death situations with a Swiss army knife and a stretch of duct tape.
Having a “number 8 wire” mentality is great for those who are good with their hands – bush mechanics or farmers – but it can be a challenge at a modern, data-powered B2B company. Managing to “keep things together” with homespun solutions is not the usual prescription for a successful forward-facing marketing team, for instance.
It’s certainly been an issue for Lena Jenkins, who is Data Powered Customer Engagement Lead at Spark New Zealand. The telco is one of the country’s biggest companies, having evolved from NZ Post Office and Telecom New Zealand.
Spark New Zealand is best known as a B2C that offers broad telephone and internet services, but it also has a sizeable B2B presence, particularly in the information and communications technology space.
Since joining Spark New Zealand from Vodafone in 2012, Jenkins has held various roles including head of digital engagement. In July 2018, she took on the dual role managing data and customer engagement. The two, she says, go hand in hand.
“You can’t deliver personalised services unless they are powered by data,” Jenkins says. “You need to understand the customer’s needs and what they’re doing to personalise those experiences. The way you understand that is through gathering and analysing data. You have to create that data foundation to deliver personalised experiences.”
“There’s a lot of people trying to innovate. How do we enable and support that innovation?”
Jenkins says delivering data-powered customer engagement is primarily through marketing automation and digital optimisation. Spark New Zealand does this through its data and analytics business (and Adobe partner) Qrious.
“We help organisations create a great marketing automation ecosystem so that they can have data-powered engagement with their customers,” Jenkins says. “The other part of our practice is helping businesses optimise their digital experiences in a data-driven way.”
Jenkins’ team helps Kiwi organisations find the right solutions for their digital problems. “Our purpose is to help all New Zealanders win big in a digital world. In a business context, the starting point is ‘OK, what are you trying to achieve?’”
This, however, is where the British standard “No.8 wire”, so loved by Kiwi farmers to fix everything (including their sheep fences), comes in. Developing innovative ideas and practices have always been important to the New Zealand business psyche. In 2017 and 2018, the country topped the World Bank’s annual Ease of Doing Business rankings, which take into account factors such as low barriers to entry to encourage entrepreneurship and improve business productivity. The innovation-led mentality is rampant in New Zealand.
A goal for businesses such as Spark New Zealand is to encourage business innovation that concentrates on delivering consistent results. For Jenkins, this is about maintaining a focus on data-driven solutions.
“The No.8 wire mentality is still alive and kicking,” she says. “There’s a lot of people trying to innovate. How do we enable and support that innovation?”
Another challenge Spark New Zealand faces is its B2B clients’ relatively small customer base. While this might appear an advantage for businesses looking to improve marketing personalisation, the opposite is often true.
“Once you start to create segments around personalisation, you very quickly find out that the segments are small,” Jenkins says. “Then you find you can’t invest too much in creating a personalised experience for such small segments. The challenge is, how do you do personalisation at scale without spending loads of money so you get the right ROI?”
No.8 wire alone might not solve that issue, but perhaps AI and automation will.
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Further reading: Turning data insights into strategic decisions
Photo: Val Vesa on Unsplash