By Bryan Kirschner, Vice President, Strategy at DataStax\n\nHelpful advice from companies that were purposely built to be data-driven permeates our daily lives.\nRecommendations for new music and movies I might enjoy from Spotify and Netflix, respectively, are like old friends. My Fitbit reminds me when I need to get moving in order to meet my daily step goal. Our Peloton offers up a \u201cfor your usual\u201d and a \u201cfor something different\u201d workout without being asked.\nWe\u2019ve started to take it for granted from other quarters as well. For example, we expect the apps and websites of any number of brick-and-mortar retailers to deliver us digital coupons that are intelligently selected based on our purchase history.\nWhen I asked Marshall Van Alstyne and Geoffrey Parker about \u201cThe Secret Weapon for a Data-Driven Enterprise,\u201d they emphasized that the bridge between big aspirations and successful execution starts with asking the right question.\nThe question \u201cTo whom can we sell our data?\u201d isn\u2019t the right one. Rather, the journey toward differentiation starts with asking \u201cWhat data about their interactions with us might our customers find valuable?\u201d\n\u201cThe items you\u2019re about to buy might make you or someone in your household ill\u201d was one example that fits the bill. If online shoppers voluntarily added food allergy and intolerance information to their profiles, one retailer automatically provides a warning if those ingredients are present in items in their shopping cart. That struck me as a win in more ways than one. It\u2019s helpful advice that saves a customer time (to safely check ingredient lists), money (assuming they discard an inadvertently purchased off-limits item), and possibly a fair bit of discomfort (if the wrong person happens to eat the wrong thing).\nA fireside chat between Geoffrey and Jes Staley, the CEO of Barclays, crystallized for me how powerful it can be to lean in to how data might be used to save customers the trinity of \u201ctime, money, and grief\u201d as part and parcel of doing business.\nStaley explained that with 8,000,000 retail banking customers growing by double digits every month, \u201cwe think we might have more data than any other entity in the United Kingdom.\u201d\nBut historically the company had been organized by products such as credit cards, mortgages, and investment advice. Data was siloed, so much so that, in his words, \u201cif you banked broadly with Barclays...god forbid if you got into financial difficulties...you\u2019d be bombarded.\u201d\nThe credit card, mortgage, and checking account overdraft product groups all had collections departments that did not talk to each other\u2014so they might all be calling the customer demanding repayment. This was not just a needless source of grief\u2014it was also a big missed opportunity. Barclays likely had the best data available with which to tailor repayment plans that would lead to the highest probability of customers getting back on their feet.\nBarclays made a commitment to creating a complete data-driven view of the customer that unlocked this possibility. As part of this, functions like \u201ccollections\u201d were reorganized into services to which all product lines turned.\nConsumers not only got a single point of contact, but also they got a partner equipped with unparalleled data with which to recommend the best win-win plan for their situation.\n\u201cWhat does data from my interactions with you tell me about how to \u2018get well soon\u2019 during a rough patch?\u201d is every bit as valuable to a customer of a financial institution as \u201cwhat does data from my interactions with you tell me about the probability of achieving my retirement goals?\u201d\nLeading data-driven enterprises don\u2019t stop asking how to make data valuable to customers, and don\u2019t let the old way of doing things stand in the way of making it happen.\nRead about taking a discovery-driven approach to transformation here.\n\nAbout Bryan Kirschner:\n\nBryan is Vice President, Strategy at DataStax. For more than 20 years he has helped large organizations build and execute strategy when they are seeking new ways forward and a future materially different from their past. He specializes in removing fear, uncertainty, and doubt from strategic decision-making through empirical data and market sensing.