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making-optimization-a-c-level-priorityThe speed of digital economic change has created new challenges for the C-suite. How can a business mitigate the risk associated with new, essential online initiatives – from introducing changes to the look and feel of the website, adding new product lines, or managing seasonal events such as Black Friday? How can businesses achieve effective use of resources – both finance and people – in order to stay ahead of the competition?

When C-level executive performance is increasingly measured in months rather than years, the speed and confidence in decision-making needs to improve, fast.

The problem for many organizations is that the data needed to support such critical decision-making is not often available within the business, or, is only available in pockets and is difficult to digest and take action on immediately. Without this data, the C-suite has no option but to base key strategic decisions on belief rather than fact.

Data Driven Decisions

Growing numbers of organizations, however, are turning to optimization technologies – including A/B Testing – because they are enabling people to easily make decisions based on data, not hunches, with a significant positive impact on their business. From insight that supports critical thinking around customer experience and retention, this new approach to decision-making saves time, mitigates risks, and can increase conversions and revenues.

To maximise impact, there needs to be a culture of optimization throughout organizations – not just in certain teams or positions – and that starts at the top. Few C-level executives are aware of the value of data and, as a result, are unable to take advantage of the strategic insight gained from optimization to inform their decisions.

Indeed, according to the January 2016 Forrester report entitled Optimize Customer Experiences With Online Testing And Continuous Optimization, online testing lacks executive visibility and is starved of resources. Only 32% of respondents to Forrester’s Q3 2015 Global Online Testing Platform Customer Online Survey were executive level or higher. The rest of the respondents were departmental managers or individual contributors. In addition, within the same study, only one-third of online testing practices employed multiple full-time resources. The remaining practices were managed by a single full-time employee, by part-time resources, or a mixture of both.

Making the Change

While these tactical optimization projects rapidly prove their value, by failing to elevate this insight to the C-level, they remain tactical rather than strategic.  Indeed, despite the massive dependence upon digital performance, the majority of businesses clearly still consider online testing and optimization to be only relevant to digital marketing or product managers. Yet testing offers so much more than effectively placing call-to-action buttons, increasing open rates or tracking cost-per-impression; A/B testing can and should be used to inform strategic business decisions. For example, testing can provide the C-suite with insight into which digital channels are delivering Return on Investment (ROI); the value of a new online media campaign; the influence of different strategies on customer retention figures or a way to rapidly identify new customer groups.

The organizations that have ingrained testing and optimization within the business culture are reaping the business benefits of a C-suite that is data driven by default.  After all, data driven decision-making delivers the best, and most innovative, results when it’s combined with human knowledge and experience, which is what the C-suite bring to the table.

By supporting critical thinking around customer retention, customer experience and identifying new market opportunities, data driven decision-making is transforming businesses. Without doubt, the speed with which the C-suite begins to harness this information will differentiate the next generation of winners.

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