Three Success Stories in Achieving Massive Value Creation Using Data

We are sitting at a profound crossroads in our evolution as a society. Transformative new technologies continue to accelerate and permeate our working world – each seemingly faster and more compelling than the last. With recent breakthroughs in AI – and particularly generative solutions like ChatGPT – tech is fundamentally impacting how business leaders think…

What is clear is that today’s new currency is data, which underpins almost anything an organization does and is the anchor for every AI and automation capability. Through recent client experiences I was reminded of how truly transformative it can be to use the right data, in the right way, at the right time. Let me share more with you.

Unlocking immeasurable financial potential

I’ve had the privilege of working with data for over two decades, and, more importantly, using it to work collaboratively with forward-thinking and innovation-minded business leaders. Together, we were able to unlock value which all told was likely in the billions of dollars. I’d like to share a few anecdotes to help bring this to life and share some important lessons I think could benefit every organization that is aspiring to elevate their maturity in this space.

Three stories from the front lines

The first example is a data warehouse project I worked on in the 1990s for a large global telecom provider. Through some crafty work, our team rapidly uncovered over $3 million of redundant capacity. To achieve this value, we simply had to turn off the “light switch” of surplus backbone infrastructure which was leased from third parties. The work to achieve this was simply to organize the data in a way in which the important characteristics could be analyzed, and the redundancies quantified.

The second story is from a global provider with thousands of convenience retail stores. Here, price elasticity testing helped the team to discover that the primary selection criteria for consumers in these wine outlets was price (rather than having specific knowledge about grapes, regions, or a particular cultivar). The simple lesson procured through these data insights allowed the business to expand the margin of these luxury goods while simultaneously increasing the volume, leading to millions of dollars of financial uplift.

My third example came from discovering the consequences of an organization not fully thinking through commercial incentives for distribution managers at a large brewing organization. The organization, like many that deal with large volumes of perishable materials, rightly incentivized the distribution managers to minimize the hold of the inventory to prevent their product going stale and having to be written off.

While a logical incentive, it was less clear to these operators that the tax implications of writing off inventory could directly contribute to an after-tax profit of hundreds of millions of dollars. Through cleverly orchestrating data across many hundreds of distribution points, the team was able to identify, quantify and ultimately realize huge amounts of untapped value through tax write-offs. The client was beyond delighted!

My secret to success: partner with the business for break-throughs

Through all these projects and the immense heavy lifting that went behind them was the ultimate realization that developing a true partnering approach with the business is what can unlock any data-driven opportunity. In all cases, there was an iterative dialogue with the business as progressively more insights were surfaced, and ambiguities clarified.

What was true in these examples is that the business operators had some inkling there was an issue or an opportunity waiting to be discovered. Success can only be possible when teams find a way to collaborate between the data experts and the front-line business stakeholders; this is where the magic happens.

Powering point-in-time decisions

In our work at Cuesta, we work with a number of leading organizations to help them leverage data to deliver strategic advantage and power executive decision-making capabilities. Equally important, we work with many front-line managers and business operators who make point-in-time decisions every day – these “point-in-time” decisions combine to make up most of the economics of any business.

Therefore, I strongly believe there is massive opportunity for organizations of all types to achieve measurable economic uplift by looking at where data and insights can have an immediate impact to the enterprise on an operational level. My past experiences give us confidence that this ambition is well within reach.

Want to learn more about how Cuesta is solving complex data challenges and unlocking new opportunities for growth for clients? Contact us today and we would be happy to share our real-world experiences with you.

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