Data and artificial intelligence enable customer-driven business

The third seminar of the HAiLife project discussed customer insight through data.

The third HAiLife seminar focused on the role of data in business, especially in terms of customer insight.

The first presentation in the seminar was given by Satu Nätti, Professor of Marketing at Oulu Business School, whose research focuses on Business-to-Business marketing and business networks. In particular, Nätti has studied the digital value creation of organisations in customer relationships and has also trained companies and public organisations in the development of customer relationships and networking.

"Digitalisation is not an intrinsic value in business."

Nätti started by pointing out that digitalisation is not an intrinsic value in business, but above all a tool for creating value for the customer. According to Nätti, when value creation is examined, its (1) subjectivity, (2) multidimensionality, (3) processuality, (4) contextuality and (5) co-creation must be taken into account. Subjectivity refers to customers' individual needs and experience, which data can, at its best, make visible and useful. The current customer paths are also increasingly complex and diverse, including multiple channels, making value creation multidimensional. Processuality, on the other hand, means that value creation between the customer and the service provider can take place in several stages as the feelings, knowledge and actions of the customer and the service provider meet in different ways. Contextuality refers to the fact that the customer always operates in an operating environment whose resources, among other things, dictate the possibilities to create value for the customer. In addition, value creation increasingly takes place together, i.e. the customer is an active player in creating value for itself together with the service provider.

Nätti's presentation provoked enthusiastic discussion. Among other things, there was plenty of discussion about the role of qualitative data in the future, when efforts are made to understand the customer holistically.

The second expert address in the seminar focused in more detail on the questions of why and for what purpose is customer data needed. The presentation was given by Heidi Kananen, Sales Director at Kaleva Media, who has previously developed data, analytics and artificial intelligence solutions related to customers and content. Kananen is also an entrepreneur (AI Optio Ltd), a trainer and the author of a book on the utilisation of artificial intelligence in business. In her presentation, Kananen explained on a practical level why data is needed, which data is needed and how data is utilised, especially in view of sales and customer experience.

According to Kananen, even today, only a small portion of data is truly utilised, and the reasons for this can be found in the several stages involved in the analytics process. Data is still not necessarily stored, analysed or communicated forward. According to Kananen, at the heart of everything is management, which must make choices regarding data objectives, processes, systems, and data collection. As it is, management must consider matters such as what exactly does data enable, who uses it, and where useful data is generated precisely in our business.

Although there already is a wealth of opportunities available, challenges remain. Data can still be of poor quality, and the results may be uncertain or presented in a complicated manner. In this case, it is difficult to imagine that the information would genuinely benefit the business concerned. Nevertheless, customers already expect even more personalised services, and the utilisation of data for this purpose has become a kind of a presumed standard level. In order to stand out, a company nowadays needs to understand the customer to a considerable extent, which is why a lot is also expected from data as well. According to Kananen, the evolving artificial intelligence provides interesting opportunities for the future, but in order to really harness them, the organisation's basic data management processes must be in order.

Recordings of the presentations and their slides can be found in the HAiLife project data bank.

Last updated: 7.11.2023