Interview With Edward Chenard Strategy Manager at Best Buy

Once and a while I get the chance to interview a true professional and thought leader in his field. Edward Chenard is one of those special people.

Instead of giving a long introduction explaining what this interview is about, I’m going to let you  jump straight to it and enjoy the following immensely interesting conversation.

Enjoy!

Interview With Edward Chenard Strategy Manager at Best Buy

Please tell us a bit about your background

I have worked in marketing and technology at a number of Fortune 500’s and start ups.  I am currently at Best Buy leading personalization, big data and data science.  I am in an exciting place of merging the customer experience with the right technology experience to bring forward new ways to serve customers.

In top level points – how does big data help bridge the gap between consumers and businesses?

Big data helps to give companies better insights into the behaviors of customers.  This is the first step to help companies serve customers in better ways.  It is also easier said than done.  Most companies are taking old disciplines and trying to have them do big data without retraining those team members.  A good example is converting statisticians into data scientists without giving them any training in programming.

Big data is really about letting the customer speak through the data.  Companies need the right skills in house to understand how to extract that insight and interpret it correctly.  Once a company has that, they can better understand a customer’s behavior.

I want to ask you something a bit controversial about Big Data. Does it push aside other forms of research like focus groups – both in importance and resource allocation?

No, Big Data is an add-on and if done correctly it is helping a company gain insights that it would not have had in the past.  But it fails at understanding intent, in most cases.  Because of that, focus groups are still relevant as well as other quant and qual research methods.  Big Data still lacks that true understanding of what customers are doing and why.  Until that gap is filled, other forms of research will always be needed.  Because most data collection practices in big data are passive, often intent is not captured.  A focus group or an in person sales consultation can capture intent.  Until big data becomes more active in capturing intent of purchase, other forms of research are still needed.

Does big data really give us an accurate picture of trends ? What kind of things does big data miss?

That’s a complex one to answer because there is still a large human element involved in big data.  How are trends defined are still a human task and if done improperly, the whole effort will be lost.  The technology alone cannot do anything without the right people in place.  Often this task is left to IT to figure out.  I have seen how this leads to failure.  To really understand trends, you need a cross functional team of sales, marketing, IT and data science.   If it is left to the technology teams to now because consumer trends spotters, a lot will be missed.  Also, the technology is not a magic bullet, a lot of work needs to be done by the teams involved, otherwise, you can have all the data in the world and still miss trends.

Customers want to learn and discover products (saas products) online. What is the best way to make it easier for them to find products?

Videos demos!  Most people like to see a video rather than a presentation or a paper.  It seems to help people understand the product faster when video is used.

Consumers want simplicity of services. What are the basic/must haves to make it easy to get information that is relevant to the customers?

A good business user dashboard.  Based on my own experience, by incorporating a dashboard with some analytics capabilities, more people were interested in signing up and using saas products.  If you have an organization that captures and processes a lot of information.  Making it simple for the business leadership to understand what is happening quickly and having the data presented in a way that makes it actionable for the business leaders, goes a long way in driving acceptance.  Know what the business leaders and design for that.

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Omri Erel
Omri is the Head of Demand Generation, as well as the Lead Author & Editor of the SaaSAddict Blog. Omri established the SaaSAddict blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to SaaS and cloud migration.
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