Resilience isn’t just a safety net – it can help your organization leapfrog the competition

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In the past few years you’ve probably heard some version of the following, more than once:

  • “Disruption is the new normal.”
  • “Organizations need new ways to weather the storm.”
  • “You have to be resilient to survive.”

All these sentiments are true. I’ve written a lot about the importance of resilience and its five core tenets which are laid out in our recent SAS Resiliency Rules report: Speed and agility. Data culture and literacy. Curiosity. Innovation. Equity and responsibility. The 2,400 global executives we interviewed across industries view these rules as central to an organization’s ability to respond to just about any kind of disruption.

But there’s more. Resilience isn’t just a safety net to keep you from falling below baseline when things go awry. It also enables an organization to advance, and even outpace competitors, during relatively normal times.

The executives we polled mentioned three areas where resilience helped them not only survive disruption but also get a leg up: customer acquisition and retention, sales and marketing, and fraud detection. And while all five resiliency rules can help in these areas, I’m going to focus on data culture and literacy. To me – and to the majority of our customers – it’s the single most important rule, and one that organizations should employ whether seas are rough or calm.

Boosting customer acquisition and retention

In our Resiliency Rules survey, 74% of executives said that resilience helped them attract and retain customers. Again, let’s take data culture and literacy as an example. Employing powerful data and analytics strategies can provide insights and efficiencies that can be passed along to the customer to help them save time and money. And a customer who’s saving time and money is a happy customer.

A great example of this is Mack Trucks, which is using remote sensors and analytics to detect mechanical issues before they happen. “We’re using analytics … to take our internal knowledge and leverage it fully to make a difference in our customers’ success,” said David Pardue, vice president, Business Office. “For monitored faults, we’ve reduced diagnostic time 70% and repair time 25% to process millions of records in real time and point the agent to what needs to be done. That’s a huge savings for customers who want to have a truck serviced quickly and accurately.”

Employing that data-driven mindset does more than rescue a company when it’s struggling. It drives business forward, builds a customer base, and keeps them coming back. Pardue says, “We’re consistently getting very strong feedback like, ‘this is a service we can’t live without.’”

Enhancing sales and marketing results

Speaking of keeping customers coming back, 74% of respondents also said resilience helps them in sales and marketing. Staying with the same resiliency rule as before, data culture and literacy can help you tailor marketing efforts to pinpoint the right subsets of customers and increase your sales dollars.

One company using data to reach customers more efficiently is Ulta Beaty, the largest beauty retailer in the U.S. Although the company had access to large amounts of customer data, it was having a hard time putting it to use. Its central marketing challenge was how to cull the data and develop automated ways of identifying customers who were open to trying new products.

“Personalization is the key to unlocking our future success, and to do this well means we need to apply data and decisioning alongside campaign activation,” said Kelly Mahoney, senior vice president of Customer and Growth Marketing at Ulta. “Today, we’re able to leverage analytics and our campaign activation-to-decision messages that reach our guests in almost real time.” How does that translate to numbers? Automating and personalizing marketing efforts helped Ulta Beauty achieve a 95% sales penetration, meaning that 95% of sales come from returning guests.

Preventing fraud before it happens

Digital fraud is rampant these days. As rates continue to rise we’ll need increasingly creative strategies to combat it. In our Resilience Rules survey, fraud detection was noted as especially important within the financial services industry. But we’re interested in preventing problems before they happen. Fortunately, the tools of resilience can help you not just detect fraud but stop it from happening at all.

Financial solutions provider CNG Holdings wanted to stave off fraud by expanding its identity protection capabilities. The company used a data-driven identity protection platform that was up and running within 90 days. As soon as they implemented the platform, they saw their fraud attack incidents plummet. “Just the mere fact that we don’t have ongoing major fraud attacks occurring is a huge benefit,” says Rick Cooney, vice president of Fraud and Identify Management. “The losses associated with those are gone.”

And when a large-scale fraud attack did test their system – 8,500 credit applications using stolen or false identities – it didn’t get far: “Only three of the 8,500 applications defeated our process,” Cooney adds. “In these cases, the fraudster used social engineering, where they got a customer to give them a one-time passcode. When we saw that was happening, in just 24 hours we moved away from the one-time passcode and chose a combination of other authentication models.”

The company’s fraud-fighting costs also dropped by 30% – another win for data.

The bottom line is that the same tools that can help you recover from disruption also help propel your company to the next level. This is true for the other four resiliency rules, too – curiosity, innovation, equity and responsibility, and speed and agility. None of these should be seen as extra things you have to do to survive the next disruption. They’re capabilities you should be working on every day, weaving them into the fabric of your business to make it even more successful in the long run.

Gavin Day
Gavin Day helps define and execute goals aligned to SAS' vision to be the most trustworthy analytics partner on the planet. He oversees a multifaceted organization that includes the SAS Office of Public Readiness and Corporate Planning; Corporate Programs and Strategy; Channels; Consulting; Technology Partnerships; and field and technology enablement.

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