Charles Duhigg is the NY Times reporter who just wrote the fascinating article on how companies like Target and P&G are using data to predict everything from how to sell Febreze, to which customers are pregnant. The article, titled, ‘How Companies Learn Your Secrets’ has been receiving a massive amount of attention from business and IT professionals, and the general public. It is even the subject of a rather contentious blogging riff “discussion” between Duhigg and a Forbes reporter who condensed his work and essentially re-packaged it for consumption on their website! His book, The Power of Habit, with an expected publish date of February 28, focuses on how companies have gained insight into the habits of their consumers or employees – and then effected change that has led to a radical shift within their organizations. It also profiles leaders who have achieved phenomenal success because of their habits.
Charles Duhigg points out that habits are not destiny. His premise is that understanding why habits exist and how they can be changed can lead to significant transformation on an individual, business and even community level. In an excerpt of the book, he shares how researchers from the National Institutes of Health have shown that changing one habit (a “keystone habit”) can actually replace old impulses with new urges. Another study by Duke University has shown that nearly 40% of what we do is not a conscious decision, but rather a habit. Through this insight, firms like Target, Starbucks, and Alcoa are transforming their organizations, leveraging this knowledge to change both employee and customer habits. Duhigg shares how his initial inspiration for the research that led to this book was acquired during his time as a newspaper reporter in Baghdad. There he observed how a major in the US military worked with local leaders to change behavior that was resulting in riots. So, perhaps changing one habit of yours, your employees, or customers won’t have quite that dramatic of an effect, it could result in better health, financial security, or new market opportunities for you!
One thing is clear: studying customer habits, analyzing them and then using those results to either influence behavior, or change it, leads to the need to manage and process massive amounts of data. Does your company have a strategy for dealing with “Big Data”? On March 20, come join LUCRUM and senior business executives as we discuss how firms of all sizes are dealing with Big Data and Big Analytics at the UC Carl H. Lindner College of Business.