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Marketers have more data at their fingertips than ever before, giving them insight into every step of the customer journey. According to a new Harvard Business Review report, using this data to improve the customer experience is key to creating a competitive advantage in today’s market.

Today consumers expect to get what they want, when they want it. At Google, we refer to those intent-rich moments—when someone wants to learn, go, do, or buy—as micro-moments. Connecting in these moments requires comprehensive data and analytics that can drive better experiences throughout the customer journey.

Many companies take a product-centric approach and use data to generate value for themselves. Take airlines, for example. Decades ago, they were the trailblazers in customer analytics, using sophisticated data to drive dynamic pricing and reward their best customers with loyalty programs. But since then, airlines haven't done much more to add new value to the product. By contrast, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company has focused on creating sustained value, using data and analytics to benefit its customers. It tracks special requests (like nonallergenic pillows) so that the company can anticipate the customer's needs on their next stay.

A new paper from Harvard Business Review shows how leading marketing organizations have created new value for the customer and established a competitive edge. In interviews with executives, academics, and analytics experts, Harvard Business Review found that:

  • In some cases, companies that have captured the full customer journey by integrating multiple sources of data are generating up to 8.5X higher shareholder value.
  • While any company can use data to optimize costs or sell more products, real differentiation comes from understanding new information about customers and orienting that business around those insights.
  • In 2015, 60% of companies said that organizational silos were the greatest barrier to improving customer experience. Successful companies are finding ways to organize around customer needs, creating nimble teams with the customer experience at the center.

Check out the full report, "Marketing in the Driver's Seat: Using Analytics to Create Customer Value," and learn more about how companies are creating customer value with innovative approaches to data and analytics.