Last Thursday, our CTO Adam Evans participated in a webinar panel hosted by Radius to discuss data science and machine intelligence and their impact on transforming how enterprises attract, convert, and retain customers. Adam was joined by Darian Shirazi, CEO of Radius and Nick Mehta, CEO of Gainsight. Here’s are some of the highlights from their discussion:

Defining data science/machine learning

While there has been a lot of talk about machine learning, there hasn’t been a common definition for data science. Adam shared that for RelateIQ, data science is a methodology; it’s about taking information, data that is both private and public, looking and observing it to ultimately make change. Data products are the outcome of data science, based off of the continuous pattern-recognition of that public and private data.

Becoming a data-driven company

Darian stated that companies need to start looking at customer ROI, and measuring every aspect of the business.

"How well we do as a company, ties directly to our customer success. Our customers' success and satisfaction will remove the quantitative evaluation off of us because we’re serving them value that’s proven."

           —Darian Shirazi, CEO of Radius

Impact of data on the industry

Nick observes that more businesses are starting to get data-oriented. While there’s still a gut feeling on how business is doing, now you can and should support it with data. Sharing the analogy of the weather forecast, he explains that in the past, we looked up at the skies to see/feel what the weather would look like the next day. Now will doppler sensors, we no longer have to guess since there are instruments collecting data on the atmosphere to give us actual weather forecasts. Adam added to this saying now there is a movement where there are more sensors out there collecting huge amounts of data, and we’re just at the start of organizing the data and creating this sensory network to flag important events through recognizable data patterns.

Building for data products for everyday usage and the non-data scientist

Adam shared that building data products for companies that traditionally have not used data before is essentially creating a user experience or interaction to surface the right information for the right moment.

"Building intelligence for the everyday should be aimed at aiding or augmenting your business actions."

          —Adam Evans, CTO of RelateIQ

Darian also added that visualization of data is important, and that design input from your customers is key. Is the data being served or represented in a way that would align with how you run your business? The feedback is important in building a data product for the everyday user.

Evolution of competencies from data-driven companies

From the sales perspective, Adam shared that the competency it’s still about working with people and building the relationship. Regardless of product or industry, the customer doesn’t care about the multiple business touchpoints that happen during the sale process, they just want you to understand them as customer. So it integrating data into the company becomes about how to get data into the different workflows that’s useful: what is the story of the customer, what’s the background of the relationship, and having that context throughout all business processes. Businesses have all this data, but they simply don’t know how to serve it at low cost–that’s where data products come in.

Darian observed that organizations will become more flat and collaborative. There are going to be more blurred lines between teams, but all should be working on the same underlying data. Currently, lots of organizations are not working off the same data, so when they come together to make decisions, they have different conclusions. This becomes especially important in marketing, as it is an arm of business that has large expenses, so it’s imperative to understand where to spend it and to back up why with the data.

Nick added that the new leaders are embracing data. By taking those gut feelings about how business is doing, they are augmenting that perception with data to see how the customer is really doing. Data is helpful for the murky middle.

“Spring of A.I.”: Outlook on the data market

Data will start to permeate, shared Adam, and it will eventually become the new normal where we’re leveraging machines to compute information and find patterns to work more efficiently. Darian added to this offering that the computer is as transformative as the automobile in the transportation industry, but for the mind. Today we are able to come to great decisions really fast and we can do better/more work with these tools. We’re just starting to see people use data in business, and expects a maturity of business tools in the next 5-10 years. Nick also sees the data moving everywhere, impacting every industry and adds that we're just at the time where the software industry is just beginning to build those tools, and early movers will be the ones who gain the most.

"Whenever there’s innovation in the market, some companies will embrace it earlier than others, and it is those companies that will gain the competitive advantage."

          —Nick Mehta, CEO of Gainsight

This post originally appeared on the RelateIQ blog.