How Top Companies Cash In on Data-Driven Innovation

Facebook knows which advertising posts you’re more likely to respond to. Uber knows when and where to surge prices. Netflix knows what you’re watching on your laptop every night and creates entertaining content based on your habits.

Everything we consume is informed by data. And companies that use customer data are outperforming their competitors in every industry.

Ecommerce startup Jet uses data to foster transparency is chasing big fish Amazon in the ecommerce world, and part of their strategy (besides raising $545 million) is to establish a transparent company culture.

Marc Lore, CEO of Jet, launched an app that provides real-time financial and non-financial metrics to investors and employees.

Not only does this kind of transparency foster immediate feedback from investors, it also shows Jet’s commitment to create an innovative and collaborative investor/startup environment.

Transparency is an essential element of Jet’s company culture and their product.

“Transparency is a long-term investment, and it is especially important because it is the gateway to trust. When trust is built – motivation and passion follows suit,” stated Marc Lore as a response to why transparency is so vital for startups.

This principle trickles down to customers as well—Jet’s pricing transparency lets customers know how much they can save on particular items and empowers them to make smart purchases.

Spotify uses data to create playlists and suggest music to listeners

Spotify, the “Netflix of music sites” according to The New Yorker, gives listeners the ability to consume any music available on the platform. Valued at $8 billion, Spotify uses algorithms to bring music and listeners together.

Previous Spotify algorithms did not work as well, which lead Spotify to acquire startup Echo Nest, an AI specifically designed for music selection.

With Echo Nest, Spotify now has more and better information on:

  • how users are listening to music
  • each listener’s location
  • the time of day consumers are listening

Spotify is using all of this data to provide valuable playlists and songs for listeners. They recently released a new playlist service called Discover Weekly that is getting rave reviews. There are two main ingredients that help the Spotify algorithms do their jobs. First, it breaks down your music profile by taking a look at what you’ve been listening to and emphasizing your most recent plays. Then it searches for user-generated playlists that feature those same songs, and pulls other tracks from the same mix. The algorithm is essentially finding other people out in the world who have your same taste in music and harnessing their preferences into a mix especially for you.

With nearly 40 million users subscribed to weekly mixtape, data is sounding like sweet music to Spotify.

Nordstrom and Bank of America drive customer interaction with Pinterest analytics

Major brands are partnering with data-driven social platforms like Pinterest to get their products in front of customers at the right moment, to promote their most popular products, and launch new products.

To attract brands and advertisers, Pinterest presents data on trending products. Brands then develop campaigns or strategies based on that customer data.

One such company is Nordstrom, which partners with Pinterest to find out what their customers want to buy.

“Every day, our customers are actively Pinning, saving and sharing the products they find most relevant in their lives. We believe our customers are telling us, through their pins, which items are the most relevant and exciting. Our goal is to share these products with likeminded customers,” stated Bryan Galipeau, social media manager for Nordstrom.

Social and behavioral data from Pinterest influence Nordstrom’s product placement and strategy.

In January 2013, Nordstrom started to test its most popular Pins in a few stores to see how customers would respond.

They developed an iPad app that lets salespeople view the most popular Pins and match those items with inventory levels by store and department. The app made it easy for salespeople to show customers trending products and merchandise on floors each week.

Nordstrom attached signage—hangtags, cards and clips—with the Pinterest logo to dresses, handbags and shoes that received the most engagement on Pinterest. Initial feedback was so positive they rolled it out to more stores across the West Coast, Midwest and East Coast.

Now, all 117 Nordstrom stores feature Top Pinned signs on merchandise in women’s shoes and handbags, two of the most pinned categories from This was only possible because Nordstrom started using and executing with data.

“We were encouraged by the positive results in sell-through from our in-store merchandising test,” Galipeau said. “It’s exciting to see how our online community can affect merchandising decisions in a physical store.”

Bank of America launched an online campaign called “Better Money Habits” geared toward millennials learning to manage their money. With one-third of millennials using Pinterest to plan and organize a future event, the campaign featured creative content for specific “life moments” – such as moving, buying a new home, or preparing for a trip.

“We’ve been successful because we’ve listened to what the community wants to know more about based on what people are searching for and customized our content to meet those needs,” said Christopher Smith, enterprise social media leader at Bank of America.

Companies investing in data and analytics are seeing profitability, market share, and successful product launches. Knowing the specific information about customer habits gives companies an edge on strategy and execution.

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