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How to Partner Better in a Data-driven World

Ramon Chen, Chief Product Officer, Reltio

DISCLAIMER: I have no inside knowledge into what may or already have been discussed, or data analyzed by either AMC Theaters or MoviePass. This article is purely based on my thoughts as a movie-goer, marketer, and product manager.

This article in The Verge caught my attention:

MoviePass threatened with lawsuit after slashing subscription fees to $10 a month 
by Thuy Ong

AMC Theatres has threatened MoviePass with a lawsuit, less than a day after the subscription cinema service dropped its subscription fees to $9.95 a month, reports Variety. That means subscribers are able to watch one movie every day for a month for only $9.95. MoviePass would still have to pay AMC full ticket prices each time someone uses the subscription, though. An average ticket is priced at $9.33, so a subscriber would only need to attend two movies a month to put MoviePass at a loss.

In 2016, the service started at $15 per month and ran up to $50 per month for unlimited movies in bigger cities. AMC, which is the largest theater chain in the US said in a statement that MoviePass’ model is unsustainable. The company argued that ticket prices below $10 a month over time wouldn’t be able to generate enough cash to operate quality theaters, nor produce enough income that would allow film makers to make movies of value.” – Source The Verge

I never knew about MoviePass as a subscription for unlimited movies. As a father of twins my wife and I barely get to go to the movies but once every 2 months, and it costs us an extra $100 in babysitting to go, and there’s nothing really compelling as far as “good” movies in our opinion, but I digress! Moviepass’ offer of $9.95 a month does seem to be very compelling, and ultimately very disruptive.

My first reaction in seeing that AMC is suing MoviePass for this action is to wonder out loud whether AMC had gone to MoviePass and offered to jointly analyze their respective datasets in order to see if there might be synergies in such an action.

An Outsiders Product Manager’s Perspective:

  1. Showtimes of movies (beyond opening week of new blockbusters) are rarely full, meaning there is unused inventory in every single time slot

  2. Pricing strategies to try and fill these slots don’t appear to have changed much beyond off peak time discounted ticket offers

  3. Loyalty and rewards programs have now started to become more prevalent so efforts are ongoing to capture consumer profiles

  4. Concession sales per customer are lucrative with a large popcorn and drink often costing more than the standard ticket (letting MoviePass fill shows to capacity could yield more in concession revenues than tickets itself)

Clearly I would need more data to find patterns and analyze this information to form the right conclusions. The steps would be to:

  1. Form a Reliable Data foundation – leading to a 360-degree view of the consumer/movie-goer profile, with demographics, attribution, captured in part through AMC’s loyalty programs, but also could then be cross-referenced (Matched and Merged) with MoviePass’ subscribers to enrich both data sets.

  2. Benefit from Commercial graph technology to find friends and family affiliations to drive offers (see marketing perspective later) to make it more of a social/group movie-going experience

  3. Generate Relevant Insights – by bringing together the transactions processed via the tickets bought through MoviePass vs. walk-ins, and other avenues such as Fandango, promotions etc. Stanalone Master Data Management profiles are insufficient as the real valuable insights are in the transactions/behaviors exhibited by those movie-goers, and they need to be analyzed and seamlessly aggregated back into the master profiles for marketing segmentation

  4. Deliver Recommended Actions – So marketing teams can jointly highlight how AMC and MoviePass could gain synergies from the increased traffic to theaters. Applying machine learning and data science to the reliable data foundation, not just at a macro-level, but to generate the right programs that can take advantage of the identified profiles, to drive more personalized experiences, and revenue-generating concession sales

  5. Leverage Data as a Service – to securely share insights between AMC and MoviePass, preserve consumer privacy, and to bring in more data from suppliers of concessions to negotiate discounts and for synergies such as just-in-time ordering to improve margins

An Outsiders Marketing Perspective:

Once all this data is aggregated, made reliable, and analyzed, the joint market teams of AMC and MoviePass could work on promotions and programs using data-driven applications. With a Modern Data Management foundation they would be able to correlate  Recommended Actions back to actual outcomes. Personalizing and improving customer experiences are just the cusp of benefits that can be realized. New business models that could easily be supported might include:

  1. Making it more of a social experience convert real-estate into Starbucks-like hangouts, with good coffee, wireless, and a place to meet. Offer better higher-end desserts so people come 30 mins before the movie with family and friends after dinner, or stay afterwards to chat about the movie and what they thought about it

  2. Increased kids focus – more tie-ins and kids activities, pre- and post-movie with merchandise sales in a movie “store” with branded items tied-ins. Sales immediately after the event for instant gratification is the a way to command a premium over online sales and their lower prices

Given the fact that VOD, Netflix, Virtual, and Augmented Reality are literally right in the face of and challenging the movie theater going experience, AMC and other theater operators face being disrupted. A Modern Data Management Platform as a Service is essential to not only improve revenue, margins and partner better, but possibly survive.

How do you think the experience could be improved as a movie-goer?

As a Product Manager, how would you use data to gain better insights and possibly partner better. Have you used shared data and insights in similar situations between partners, or perhaps in M&A scenarios? Please share.

Is it About the Groceries or the Data? How Whole Foods Tried to Avoid Being Amazoned

Ramon Chen, Chief Product Officer, Reltio

Amazon announced that it is acquiring Whole Foods for $13.7B.  There are several theories going around about the move, from direct competition with Walmart, to an interesting theory by Blockchain Expert Richie Etwaru, who ties in Amazon’s designs on becoming a pharmacy with the deal, and whether they might go after a healthcare payer next. Some even are speculating that Nordstrom is next on the Amazon shopping list.

As the Chief Product Officer at Reltio, my focus is on the data, and helping companies avoid being “Amazoned” (Informal definition: Brick and mortar stores under threat from online competitors). Rewind 1.5 years ago, an article by Phil Wainewright of Diginomica caught my attention. “Whole Foods Market teams with Infor to transform retail.” Credit Whole Foods executive vice president and CIO Jason Buechel with his vision to be more data-driven, and to create one source of the truth.

Based on what we know about customer behavior, attitudes we know about that store and region, we want to make decisions on everything from assortment planning to space allocation, pricing, promotion. A lot of that has got to do with insights from the platform and having better analytics to make decisions.

 

Whole Foods and Infor’s partnership was supposed to result in a next generation, cloud-based retail management system to transform its core operations. Infor, which hosts the software on Amazon Web Services (AWS), intended to make the capability available other retailers in the industry.

In the article, Buechel also told author Phil Wainewright of Diginomica that Whole Foods has carefully weighed the pros and cons of that cloud infrastructure being operated by Amazon Web Services (AWS), which is part of a company with which it competes in the online grocery market.

We’re OK with this decision, for two reasons. One, the ‘chinese wall’ — the commercial commitment that Amazon does not have access to the data or any of the things that are really being processed within AWS within this solution. We’ve had specific direct conversations with Amazon involving our legal teams and really understanding that limitation.”

If Amazon were ever to breach those commitments I think it would be devastating to their business — and a quite profitable business for them as well.

There’s also the huge consideration that this is the largest, best and most cost-effective platform in this space. Another partner would not yield as good a result. It is not just cloud hosting, it is a platform, a toolset, that allows speed-to-market that are not offered by other providers.

Kudos to Phil Wainewright for this article, because it called out what all Retailers are thinking today. The only way to avoid being “Amazoned” is to run on the very platform, Amazon Web Services (AWS), that can allow me to compete with Amazon.

Retailing executives are asking themselves am I okay with that? What are my alternatives? Clearly Whole Foods CIO Jason Buechel knew it was a risk worth taking. He may not have foreseen that Amazon would acquire Whole Foods, but he definitely knew that doing nothing was not acceptable.

Other data experts saw this coming as well. Bill Schmarzo, CTO, Dell EMC Services (aka “Dean of Big Data”) posted an amazingly relevant digital transformation blog post, with a Grocery chain case study less than a week ago!

As for the question, did Amazon buy Whole Foods for the groceries or the data? Clearly this is an amazing twofer. They get a physical presence that can help their delivery and Amazon Fresh efforts, but they also get the significant dataset of customers who buy groceries from Whole Foods. They now have the information to bring together a complete single view of the customer, from brick and mortar shopping to online purchases. 

In the end, the data-driven takeaway to all retailers is not just evolve or be Amazoned, but do it fast because no company can afford to spend years working on digital transformation, when their very survival depends on better customer experience, better marketing, better omnichannel engagement, personalization and more.

At Reltio, we’ve honed our Modern Data Management Platform as a Service (PaaS) to give companies the agility they need to not just survive, but thrive. Incidentally, Ajay Khanna, Reltio’s VP of Marketing will be presenting on this exact topic at the MITCDOIQ Symposium in Cambridge, MA on July 13th. We hope to see you there.

Driving Digital Transformation Through Modern Master Data Management

Ankur Gupta, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Reltio

Digital Strategy is not a separate strategy, but instead a new lens on the overall business strategy that incorporates customer intelligence, sales & service optimization and digital marketing efforts (e.g. mobile, e-commerce and social). Key drivers of digital transformation among B2C organizations are profitability, customer satisfaction and increased speed to market. Whether you are a retailer, restaurant, travel company, media & entertainment company, lifestyle brand, or a consumer bank, you want to create a seamless, personalized and consistent customer experience across all channels (web, email, phone, stores) and departments (marketing, sales, support).

However, personalization is a double-edged sword. All digital transformation and personalization efforts would fail if data underneath is of poor quality, siloed and delayed. According to an estimate, poor customer experiences result in an estimated $83 billion loss by U.S. enterprises each year because of defections and abandoned purchases. On the contrary, if done correctly, it can considerably boost your business (Amazon’s conversion to sales of on-site recommendations could be as high as 60%). Some of the top of mind issues discussed during various sessions included:

Garbage in – garbage out. 

Today, hyper-personalization is possible because of digital transformation enabled by cloud, mobile, big data, internet of things and many more cutting-edge technologies. Similarly, companies have invented great processes (order-to-cash, supply chain management, onboarding, provisioning) to manage customers, prospects, suppliers and partners. What’s still not treated as a top priority is the quality of data driving these processes.

Omnichannel initiative of any consumer brand is as good as its underlying data. A reliable data foundation alone, created through a Modern Data Management Platform, can lead to a truly personalized engagement,” said Ramon Chen, Chief Marketing Officer of Reltio, during the panel discussion, “Lessons from Lifestyle Brands: Omnichannel Marketing and Strategy.

The thought was echoed by other participants who discussed how reliable data is the key to effective customer experiences.

Data silos within the organization.

Being able to understand and monitor end-to-end consumer journey is vital. Yet, it is not uncommon for each team or function within an organization to define and measure customer experiences independently, in isolation. The result is disconnected global operations, fragmented multichannel visibility and incomplete views of customers that slow down all digital transformation efforts. Data-driven applications built on a Modern Data Management platform gives you not only the 360-degree view of your customers, products, channel partners, or suppliers but also a contextualized view of relationships among these entities. More importantly, it helps you create a single-source of truth across sales, marketing and support to provide the right customer with the right offering at the right time, thus enhancing the customer experience.

Data silos across organizations.

Co-innovation, co-creation and collaborative curation of consumer information, at a big data scale, can open the door to new possibilities. For example, personalized recommendations for food, movies, hotels and shopping can be packaged together for a particular consumer if the companies in these different industries are willing to share data with each other. Furthermore, such data exchange helps these non-competing business entities to monetize their precious consumer data assets. As digital touchpoints proliferation continues, a Modern Data Management solution will help companies to trade reliable data currency in a secure fashion.

Business outcomes don’t feed the underlying master data.

There are no mistakes, only lessons. It is critical to get smarter with each interaction. A Modern Data Management Platform coupled with Machine Learning enables contextual information and helps you answer high-impact business questions such as – Will my customer buy this product or not? Is this review written by a customer or a robot? Which category of products is most interesting to this customer? And so on. On top of that, a Modern Data Management solution captures all actual business outcomes and enriches the master data in a closed-loop, thus continuously fueling the recommendation engine for making smarter predictions.

It’s time for data to be managed in such a way to make true digital transformation happen. Once Modern Data Management is in place, a consumer brand can reap substantial benefits on a continual basis. Starting with proper data quality and alignment of key data assets across systems, departments and channels, it helps build a reliable data foundation for all your digital transformation initiatives. Businesses who will timely address this challenge will be ahead of the competition.

CIO & CDOs: How Does Brexit Impact Your Data Management Strategy?

By now I’m sure you’ve had more than your fill of Brexit analysis, memes, and even a tie-in to the England National team’s exit from Euro 2016 tournament.

It’s been well documented that the vote doesn’t mean that the UK is leaving the EU tomorrow. Some speculate it could take until 2020 before any action is taken. But companies across the globe do need to plan for that eventuality, and one key area is ensuring that they remain agile with their data management, and privacy protection strategies.

A major analyst firm wasted no time in issuing a research note titled “CIOs Must Act to Prepare for Changes Triggered by Brexit”. The note covered a wide variety of areas from cost optimization, people and talent through to governance and operating model changes.

Businesses in Europe will see a stall in IT spending as a result of the U.K. vote to leave the European Union. CIOs need to provide frequent, open communication and create a task force to prepare for the changes.

In the area of data management, many have been quick to point out that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) passed by the EU late 2015 already has strong requirements as it pertains to:

  • Accountability of businesses to demonstrate compliance including privacy impact assessments, key in healthcare data, in which the risks to an individual during the use of that data must be detailed

  • Data erasure aka “the right to be forgotten”, meaning removing any historical activities made by individuals captured as part of their digital activities

  • Profiling which relates to the need to obtain permission from individuals before any of their profile data is used to evaluate their behavior. Credit scores are an example of such profiling

  • Data breach notifications that dictate the minimum acceptable time periods upon which individuals or organizations must be notified when profiles containing their data is compromised

If the UK is no longer part of the EU, this may seemingly free UK companies from having to conform. However the GDPR is likely to be enacted in 2018, before the UK would leave in say 2020. And the UK and other companies doing business in the EU would still have to conform.

Additionally the GDPR actually determines data security and privacy policies for members of another group known as the European Economic Area (EEA). The analyst firm further points out

Brexit vote applies to the U.K. leaving the EU, it does not address the question of whether the U.K. will remain within the EEA (for example, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein are members of the EEA, but not the EU). Consequently, CIOs with data located in the U.K. will still need to continue with plans to comply with the new regulation until more information is provided on the U.K.’s future position in the EEA.

An Information Week article “Brexit: Will Cloud Vendors Hear London Calling?” speculates how Brexit might impact the investments being made in data centers by giants such as Amazon and Microsoft.

Amazon Web Services and Microsoft are in the process of adding to their cloud facilities in the UK. IBM has already done so. All were trying to establish cloud centers close to what has become the emerging financial center of the EU.

While an article in the Financial times takes another perspective suggesting that

Regional Cloud service providers would not be able to reach the scale needed to compete with global rivals, instead forcing them to rely on local data centers run by Amazon Web Services and Microsoft, which already operate at an order of magnitude, this person said. “What we’re moving towards is a duopoly of AWS and Microsoft.”

As we’ve seen by global reaction, and the gyrations in the stock market, the uncertainty is overwhelming.

Reltio’s CEO Manish Sood in an interview with ComputerWeekly pointed out that

Data privacy and protection laws are becoming increasingly stringent, and are slowly catching up to the wealth of data being captured and used in the digital age.

Organizations who naturally see data as an asset for digital transformation, improved customer experience, and personalized targeting, have multiple hurdles to go through to conform to not just new regulations like GDPR, or even the EU-US privacy shield. The key for any organization wanting to do business globally is to use data management platforms and technologies that are agile enough to comply with all of these laws today, and as they evolve. Only then can they maintain their competitive advantage using data, and prevent their data turning into a compliance liability.

So maybe Brexit is just another wake up call for your company’s data management strategy.