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While conversing with the CIO Applications’ editorial team, Ray Walsh, the CEO of Market Force Information, shared his insights on the current market trends, the company’s offerings, and the value proposition that the company imparts to its clients.
What are the current market trends and scenarios that you see in the data analytics solution space, and how is Market Force Information planning to leverage them and evolve?
We were recognized by the Forrester as a Break Out Vendor in 2017, specifically for our location-based analytics practice and our focus on helping brands optimize customer experience investments. The natural evolution of this service will be to integrate AI and machine learning into our processes and analyses to deliver strategic insights at scale across bigger and broader data sets. With the application of AI and machine learning, we will enable real-time analytics—providing insights to action in the moment of truth for a customer. This allows us to utilize third party data such as weather data, traffic, and footfall data to inform clients on specific conditions to provide world-class customer experience. The resulting applications allow our clients to “tune” the experience of their customers to an optimal level. We are also utilizing AI to assess passive customer experience data from social media sources. We have applications that can contextualize social media feedback within the operational background that our clients use to manage their locations and have recently extended this application to include local competition for our clients, providing them a more realistic view of their operating environments.
What are the challenges your clients face in the data analytics solution space, and how is Market Force Information effectively addressing these issues?
Most brands that work with Market Force are not at a loss for data. They are facing various performance issues. The key is to understand which measures and which specific attributes are making an impact on the customer and deliver better financial performance. Most brands are struggling with which business questions to ask and what analytics process to use for answering them. By partnering with us, our clients obtain better results as we continuously analyze their results and provide actionable recommendations for a smoother experience.
With the application of AI and machine learning, we will enable real-time analytics—providing insights to action in the moment of truth for a customer
Could you please walk us through the working mechanism of your offerings?
Market Force provides a host of performance measures that focus on the Service Profit Chain, which is the premise that engaged team members execute more consistently on an organization’s standard operating procedures, which drives greater customer satisfaction and loyalty. The measures that we use include mystery shopping, customer and employee surveys, contact center services, and social media monitoring. But these are simply data points; to be useful, they have to be transformed into knowledge and actionable insights. We do this by leveraging our predictive analytics practice to link these measures to financial performance to help brands understand the gaps to be filled and the value of improving business performance.
The data is subjected to several sophisticated modeling processes that allow Market Force to deliver what we refer to as a Criticality Index. Some clients are focused on same-store sales growth, while others focus on different measures such as gallons sold, net activations, or RevPAR. Each industry has its own set of KPIs and knows why those measures are important to them. Once we have delivered the Criticality Index, we then provide a location segmentation model to explain which locations are delivering the best performance with respect to the key drivers and which are delivering only on some of those key drivers. By providing the segmentation, we enable our clients to develop prescriptive measures across distinct groupings of locations to empower action.
The last component of our offerings is the What if? analysis. This is the calculation of the potential increase in the KPI if targeted improvements are successful. Having this predictive ROI focus is what helps executive leadership teams align and focus on a subset of the most important actionable insights. We then report those results and the value of improvement through a technology platform. This platform helps organizations understand everything about their business, in real-time. Decision support is enabled, and the brand can drive action on what it needs to achieve to engage its front line staff better, execute on customer expectations, and, ultimately, improve its financial performance.
Could you please cite one client story to justify what your company does?
Market Force has been working with a very successful fast-casual restaurant brand with over 1400 locations for over ten years. We began working with this brand when they only had a little over 300 locations. They have scaled substantially over the term of our working partnership. The first service that we provided to this brand was mystery shopping, a systemic operational measure. We helped them evaluate their execution on both lunch and dinner every week. We then developed and deployed a customer survey program to help them understand how their adherence to brand standards was resonating with actual paying guests. They needed to understand how high performance helped enhance customer perception and how low performance damaged the customer experience. With both data sets in progress, we applied our predictive analytics approach to help assess which measures would drive the most improvement. We were able to discern that those restaurants that performed consistently well on certain attributes observed the same-store sales growth rates of about 5 percent and those that did not notice negative sales performance of about -2.0 percent (a +6.0 percent swing between the two). We then provided those attributes to the business so that they could internalize the insights and develop action plans to improve on the areas that had been identified. Those that improved their performance were able to achieve +6 percent same-store sales growth.
What does the future of Market Force Information look like?
We will continue to focus on the KnowledgeForce® Platform and features that allow clients to incorporate increasingly diverse data sets and integrate sophisticated modeling that allows the combination of those data sets to drive meaningful, actionable insights. The newest release of the KnowledgeForce® Platform is slated for the early half of 2020, and we are looking forward to helping more brands ingest their performance data, identify the linkages between those measures and financial results so we can empower them to work on those things that will have the biggest impact to their business.