We like to work with our customer’s domain experts; they are extremely important to help us understand what our customer’s data is telling us. I received a question last week: “What is a ‘domain expert’?” Let me share a couple of simple examples:

Let’s say a customer’s sales data shows that product X sells like hot cakes between the months of October and March. But sales are low or non-existent during the rest of the year. If that product is a snow shovel and the business is located a northern climate where it snows, it will be completely obvious to why that type of sales pattern is emerging. Someone looking at the raw data and not knowing the implications of snow on a home’s driveway and sidewalks during the winter months might be puzzled by the sales pattern and perhaps incorrectly recommend a marketing effort around the product during the “low sales” months. A domain expert in this exceedingly simple example is someone (typically an employee for the customer) who can help the analytics team understand something about the emerging patters in the results which are being drawn from the data.

A second (still simple) example. Another customer in question provides all sorts of equipment lubrication items – from heavy gear oil, to normal engine oil. If the sales graphs are reviewed for a product which is only used in a particular machine, and that machine is only used while an end customer does a plant shutdown, the untrained observer may be puzzled without a domain expert explaining the use of the product. This is especially true if the end customer’s who are buying the product are not operating on a calendar year schedule for plant shutdown – perhaps once every 9 or 18 months. In this case the domain expert will understand their end customers and be able to describe the emerging data patterns to the analytics team.

Domain experts have a deep understanding of the business’ products (in the case of a retail business) or programs or offerings (in the case of other businesses).

These experts allow Spieker Point to dive directly into the complexities of understanding what the data is showing. The data analysis now becomes much more effective and pointed… Based on various techniques, we can effectively group end customers based on customer’s data. We can now find those end customer’s which are “outliers” – those which fit into an identifiable group, but are doing something different than the rest of the group.

What if an outlier isn’t buying a product the rest of the group is? Is that because they don’t know that our customer sells the product? Is it because they’re getting it elsewhere for a better price? Both reasons are important for the business to understand.

A domain expert will then be able to help us drill down to understand what is going on. Perhaps these types of outliers simply show up on our software’s dashboard for the sales team; indicating that one of the “to do” items today is to call on an end customer to talk about the product they’re not purchasing…

When the domain expert and an analytics group team up, all sorts of interesting information about a customer base suddenly filters out and is easily identifiable.

Who are your domain experts? Do they have their “senses tingling” that something more is just under the surface of the data, but are unable to put their finger on how to identify it? Spieker Point can help you with analytics to “group” your customers, compare and contrast them to identify outliers. Then the job of the sales team is like “shootin’ fish in a barrel”!