Democratize: Meaning of the Word to be Understood before 'Democratize Data'
de·moc·ra·tize (verb)- making something available with accessibility to all
Data democratization is the latest trend retailers are increasingly following, despite overwhelming support for this improvement is due yet. Think about an act of transaction in retail environment about a decade ago. A customer would step into a store, surf indiscriminately though the store and aisles, use his/her instinct and power of reasoning to guess where the desired product could be and finally he/she would bring it along to the check out point and wait, most expectedly, in a long queue before leaving the store.
The Problems if There is no Data Democratization
What are the problems in this above-mentioned situation? Quite a few actually, such as,
- Time consuming (The customer desperately searches without any knowledge whatsoever of the right place where the product can or cannot be found at all. If found at all, there is hardly any chance that the customer will leave the store by making the payment within less than a minute)
- No effort to collect information that will give the customer a distinguished identity
- Without distinguished identity, there is no way that he/she can be informed about product offers and promotions, matching his/her preference in future
- In case a product is out-of-the-stock or misplaced manually, there is no way that customers will be able located it; in turn, leading to futile search, frustration for the customer and poor brand building
The modern brick-and-mortar stores are engaged in a tough competition with their ecommerce counterparts from the perspective of customer convenience. The online stores have already addressed and solved the above-mentioned issues of inconvenience. The idea concerning data democratization, quite naturally, attempts to solve the limitations that brick-and-mortar stores have in delivering customers with as equally competent solutions as ecommerce websites. However, to democratize data doesn’t only mean benefit for customers but also empowering store personnel with better understanding about products, inventory, customer preference and informed decision making, swiftly.
The Goal of Data Democratization
The goal of data democratization comes along with the compulsion for infrastructural overhaul, which is store automation, in the brick-and-mortar environment. In addition, retailers have also taken into consideration the most important fact that big data would mean nothing in the context of progress, unless they learn to determine what information should be accessible to whom. Store automation means more touch points, simultaneously, constant and increasing data flow. The big data pool would not only contain information concerning customers’ preference, demographics, their store accessing times and buying patterns but also confidential information, such as address, phone numbers, credit card and bank account details etc. While information belonging to the first category is essential to run the analytics and should be made available as ready-to-use information for swift decision making, on the other hand, information belonging to the latter category should be protected by all means.
Factors Prompting Data Democratization in Brick-and-mortar Retail
Despite these challenges, it is good to see that retailers are not shirking the path of data democratization. What are the main reasons encouraging them to embrace the new idea? Here follows the reasons:
- Out-of-stock is still one of the primary challenges that retail stores are struggling to overcome. Data democratization not only allows customers with the information about current status of the inventory but also deliver store management real-time data of the stock, only to encourage quick and informed decision making, aimed at customer satisfaction.
- Democratize data means simplifying the inflow of information for the targeted audience. Bigger is the data pool, more complicated it becomes for customers and store personnel in deciphering results in a less time-consuming and cost effective manner. Consequently, the targeted audience inclines to take the decision as per instinct and by not providing much importance to the complicated results. This increases the chance of flawed, uninformed decision making.
- Data democratization is a strong step towards building a reliable, fruitful BI (Business Intelligence) for retail businesses.
- Data democratization is the only way to seamlessly integrate in-store operations, inventory management and responding to vendors/suppliers only to ensure flawless store performance management.