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How to use decision intelligence to tackle complex business challenges

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How to use decision intelligence to tackle complex business challenges

Complex decision-making has become increasingly challenging as strong operational excellence and productivity, especially within marketing organizations, become vital competitive advantages. Across the board, the most successful companies and investors depend on fast and accurate decision-making, ranging from lead nurturing to recruiting and investment decisions.

Research shows that businesses make up to three billion decisions annually and a recent survey by Gartner reported that 65% of decisions are more complex (involving more stakeholders or choices) than they were two years ago.

Many businesses today, and the marketers that serve them, need better insight to bridge the gap between massive amounts of data and business decisions. Only 24% of companies say they are “data-driven,” whereas others face missed opportunities, inefficiencies, and increased business risks. The average S&P company loses $250 million annually due to poor decision-making.

Decision intelligence is a framework that bridges the gap between insights and decisions. It empowers organizations to make better, consistent, and data-driven decisions. Leaders and teams can make informed decisions at every level of the company!

What is decision intelligence?

Decision intelligence (DI) is an evolving discipline that combines data, analysis, AI, automation, and experience to make better decisions. DI helps guide decision-makers with actionable insights using optimization, simulation, and decision-analysis techniques.

In contrast to traditional decision-making approaches, which rely heavily on intuition and experience, DI incorporates methodical, analytical, and data-driven approaches.

The focus of DI is not just on the technology but on how it augments human decision-making processes. It is a multidisciplinary field drawing on expertise from various arenas, including computer science, statistics, psychology, economics, and business.

According to Dr. Loren Pratt, chief science officer and co-founder of DI software provider Quantellia, and author of “How Decision Intelligence Connects Data, Actions, and Outcomes for a Better World,” another key concept of DI is designing decisions like organizations design homes, buildings, and airplanes — by creating a blueprint first.

Much like a blueprint, a decision design helps align everyone involved in that decision — including stakeholders — around its rationale. She found that by treating decisions like a design problem, you can bring many design best practices to bear, such as ideation, documentation, rendering, refinement, QA, and design thinking.

In 2019, Google’s first Chief Decision Officer, Cassie Kozyrkov, established a new decision intelligence engineering discipline to augment data science with behavioral science, economics, and managerial science to focus on the next business advantage beyond the data.

Intelligent decisions are designed, simulated, automated, monitored, and tuned. 

Dig deeper: Why data-driven decision-making is the foundation of successful CX

What decision intelligence is not

Decision science. Decision science has usually been associated with the qualitative side of data. DS is the overarching term, while “decision intelligence” is the operational side. 

Strategic intelligence. Broadly, strategic intelligence means using BI insights to drive and support strategy. We also call this market intelligence which provides businesses with current industry trends and makes sense of consumer behavior to navigate a future course of action.

Calculated decisions. Not every output or recommendation is a decision, Kozyrkov says. In decision analysis terminology, a decision is only made after an irrevocable allocation of resources takes place. If you can change your mind for free, no decision has yet been made.

Applications of decision intelligence

DI applies to various decision-making problems, such as resource allocation, risk management, strategic planning, and, yes, marketing. I’ve used it in developing systems and platforms for complex energy, finance, policy, and marketing decisions.

Our last startup platform supported DI for go-to-market executives reducing the decision-making process from nine months to a fraction of time with greater visibility, training, and impacts.

DI has been applied in credit applications or fraud detection in financial services.  It has been used in retail to determine how much inventory to purchase, optimal stock levels, or price forecasts. According to Dr. Loren Pratt, employing decision intelligence can positively impact evidence-based decisions in a healthcare crisis.

Other use cases include customer satisfaction, marketing attribution, and competitive and go-to-market strategies. Designs of the framework of these decisions were standard for GTM; however, implementation required building an enterprise platform, training, and data support. But in the end, this decision-making time dropped from nine to one-to-three months. The average impact was over $10 million, including an apparel company discovering a new $90 million revenue stream embracing the platform. 

Dig deeper: Automating decisions with real-time situational context

Benefits of decision intelligence

McKinsey senior partner Kate Smaje states that organizations are now accomplishing in 10 days what used to take 10 months. Having DI supports the continually increasing pace of decisions required to stay competitive.

The first benefit is DI aids leaders in navigating complex decisions with more focused and comprehensive information. As you design the decisions, you can structure cross-organizational information toward specific goals or objectives. Having this kind of visibility facilitates navigating trade-offs between competing objectives. It eliminates more of the analysis paralysis found in most strategic and high-level tactical decisions. 

Next, DI reduces risk and uncertainty. Decision-makers with real-time data and insights can leverage DI to identify and proactively mitigate potential risks. With the visibility in trade-offs, organizations can better apply risk/reward plans to avoid costly mistakes hindering a competitive edge.

Decision Intelligence enhances efficiency and productivity. By automating specific decision-making processes and providing decision-makers with real-time data and insights, DI can help streamline decision-making and improve productivity. You are reducing decision latency. These processes can be built or programmed into systems to free up time and resources to explore more options or allocate to other important tasks and initiatives.

Finally, organizations leveraging DI gain a more potent competitive edge by leveraging data and technology by evaluating, then acting on, more intelligent and faster complex decisions which typically cripple momentum or transformation.

Limits and challenges of decision intelligence

With data, AI, and automation involved, it’s not surprising that there are some challenges and limitations that are also present with DI.

Ethics/bias. DI can methodically help reduce bias and reinforce ethical decisions. At the same time, with any data-driven and automated system, decisions leveraging DI built by humans still risk being developed based on biased or discriminatory data or algorithms. Awareness training, along with all other organizational data-driven efforts, is a must.

Data availability. Leaders and project managers must be aware of data access and availability limitations. Decision effectiveness is often challenging to find on smaller datasets. Sometimes things go wrong, but it’s more based on luck than data. For complex and infrequent decisions, an organization may need help to define an approach for measuring decisions. In such cases, technology limitations may prevent a solution. Organizations need to formalize such decision-making processes and can only use technology. Also, it’s worth highlighting what could be missing or the scope of what’s possible.

Resistance. An important part of DI is ensuring more transparency, consistency, and training in the decision-making process. The traditional culture of decision-makers will initially be resistant as it feels that it dismisses their experience or instinct or runs against their specific agendas. Those in charge of DI efforts need to communicate how DI benefits their efforts and leads to better outcomes for individuals and organizations.

Leaders can overcome these challenges and limitations through clear communication and a well-defined scope of its application. Each new initiative can grow and enhance an organization’s decision-making culture.

Tips and factors

  • Choose a focused decision. Begin by implementing DI in functions where business-critical decision-making needs improvement (e.g., data-driven, AI-powered). Alternatives include large complex decisions or ones that can be scaled and accelerated through automation.
  • Begin with outcomes. There’s a flood of data in your organization, but you should only gather relevant data to that outcome to design a decision model. Add additional data or test theories of additional information once you’ve started with your early set.
  • Map out decisions. Document assumptions, thoughts, emotions, concerns, and fears involved in your decisions. Review them quarterly or semi-annually. It will increase your organization’s decision-making muscle.
  • Don’t automate everything. Humans, especially when it comes to complex and sensitive decisions, are necessary.
  • Authority should be to the decision. Provide authority to make decisions to the people closest to the point of impact of that decision. Ownership will incentivize effective decision-making.
  • Develop new decision-making habits. Teach decision-makers to apply systematic best practices, such as critical thinking, trade-off analysis, recognizing bias, and listening to opposing views.
  • Beware narrow framing. In the book “Decisive” by Chip and Dan Heath, the authors explain that a straightforward way to improve decision-making is to avoid limiting the scope of the frame. A decision is rarely just a “yes” or “no.” There are always multiple options, so have at least three available for any decision.

Decision-makers frequently need more information, time, and experience to make complex decisions. A study by Bain found that business performance seems 95% correlated to the effectiveness of decisions. Decision intelligence systems improve efficacy by explaining and justifying the decisions, learning from past decisions’ feedback, and comparing the impact to improve decision effectiveness.

Decision intelligence is a crucial tool that can help you make better decisions. By combining data science, AI, and human expertise, DI can help reduce uncertainty and improve effectiveness. However, DI has its challenges and limitations. You must be aware of these risks and take steps to mitigate them.


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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

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Top 3 Strategies for Success

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Top 3 Strategies for Success

With the advent of e-commerce, manufacturers have unprecedented opportunities to expand their reach, streamline their operations, and enhance profitability. Amidst this digital revolution, adopting Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) is pivotal in optimizing production processes, quality control, and resource management.

As the lines between traditional brick-and-mortar sales and online commerce continue to blur, manufacturers increasingly realize the need to adapt and thrive in this new digital landscape. This article explores the top 3 strategies manufacturers can employ to succeed in e-commerce.

Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES)

MES (Manufacturing Execution System) is specialized application software designed to solve the tasks of synchronization, coordination, analysis, and optimization of production output within any production. MES systems belong to the class of shop floor-level management systems but can also be used for integrated production management at the enterprise as a whole.

MES collects and analyzes production processes, product demand, and inventory data. This allows manufacturers to adapt more quickly to changes in the market, reconfigure production to meet current requirements, and closely monitor trends. As a result, manufacturers can more easily predict and meet customer needs, which helps increase online sales.

MES helps in maintaining accurate inventory records and managing inventory turnover. This avoids overstock or shortages, which can affect a company’s ability to meet online demand and maintain customer service levels.

Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) enhance transparency and automate operations, reducing human errors and operational costs. Integrating Manufacturing CRM streamlines customer data, allowing manufacturers to tailor products, respond to market changes, and offer competitive prices in online stores. The synergy between MES and CRM creates an agile manufacturing environment, optimizing efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Content Marketing

Kapost’s research shows that companies in the B2B segment that blog get 67% more leads on average than companies that don’t. However, it’s worth remembering that content marketing requires a lot of resources to prepare and regularity in publishing it. This content can be, for example, brand identity and E-commerce logo, articles and videos, webinars, research, and interviews.

The content should help solve a specific problem to create the image of an expert and thus influence the decisions of potential customers. The topics discussed should not be chosen randomly. A little research in Google Trends will help select the main topic, discussion areas in the video, phrases, and words that should be included in the article. Publishing content based on such a prepared analysis allows you to achieve high positions in search engines. It provides a good user experience for customers looking for answers to product/service questions, comprehensively covering the subject matter.

The benefits of this e-commerce strategy are free traffic, increased user confidence, and the creation of an expert image.

Content marketing is a form of promotion that requires patience and time. Its effects will also depend on the quality of thecontent itself, its optimization, and promotion methods. No specific terms can be specified here.

YouTube channels as a form of content marketing

You can discuss your production process and show and test products on your YouTube channel. If someone is looking for information about a product and is unsure which brand to choose, they will likely find your video and maybe make a purchase. Remember to choose a title that matches the search query and prepare a video description with product links. You can send out an email to announce when new videos are released. Whenever you have particularly compelling videos, you could also promote them via texting notifications to drive even more traffic.

Utilize user-generated content and social media

Not utilizing the content that your users generate is a huge issue. This is because it’s not easy to refresh an e-commerce website and keep it alive. But photos and videos taken by real customers are great for this purpose.

Adding a “widget” that connects your online store’s website to its official social media accounts brings significant benefits. These include revitalizing your social media accounts, increasing your credibility as a manufacturer, inspiring other customers to buy, and encouraging repeat purchases.

Snapchat Planets

Snapchat’s “Planets” feature provides a unique and interactive way to engage with your e-commerce store’s audience. Here are some creative ideas on how to leverage Snapchat Planets to create engaging content:

  • Virtual Store Tours: Use the AR feature to create a virtual tour of your store. Each planet can represent different sections or categories of your store. For instance, one planet could showcase your latest collection, another could highlight bestsellers, and another could offer exclusive deals.
  • Product Launches: Announce new product launches by creating a cosmic journey. Users can travel from one planet to another, each unveiling a new product with engaging visuals and detailed descriptions. This creates a sense of excitement and discovery around new arrivals.
  • Interactive Shopping Experience: Create interactive shopping experiences where users can explore products in a fun and engaging way. For example, users can navigate through different planets to find hidden discounts or special offers, making shopping more interactive and rewarding.
  • Customer Rewards and Loyalty Programs: Develop a loyalty program where users earn points or rewards by exploring different planets. Each planet can offer unique rewards, such as discounts, free samples, or exclusive access to new collections. This gamifies the shopping experience and encourages repeat visits.
  • Themed Campaigns: Align your marketing campaigns with planetary themes. For instance, during holiday seasons, you can create a holiday-themed planet where users can find special holiday deals, gift ideas, and festive content.

By leveraging Snapchat Planets, you can transform your e-commerce store’s content into a captivating and interactive experience that keeps your audience engaged, entertained, and coming back for more.

Use newsletters to captivate your target audience

Newsletters can strengthen the connection with the consumer and demonstrate that shopping with you is safe and profitable. Remember that the more personalized the message, the more effective it will be. It should contain a call to action (CTA), such as a button that redirects to products.

Don’t forget to put a box to check for consent to process personal data when subscribing to the newsletter. Also, add an option to unsubscribe from the newsletter in each email.

A regular email account is not adapted for the newsletter, so do not use your everyday email address. This way, you risk being blacklisted by spam filters. The benefits of newsletters are optimizing advertising costs, increasing loyal audiences from different channels, and building mutually beneficial relationships with partners.

Print and PDF Channel

1716522964 432 Top 3 Strategies for Success

In the digital landscape, the significance of Print and PDF channels cannot be underestimated for manufacturers engaging in e- commerce. The tactile experience of print offers unique psychological advantages, enhancing comprehension and retention, which are vital for technical manuals and complex product details. PDFs merge this benefit with digital accessibility, ensuring wide reach while maintaining format integrity. This dual-channel approach not only caters to diverse consumer preferences but also bolsters marketing efforts, making technical content more engaging and understandable. Utilizing catalog software further streamlines the integration of Print and PDF channels into e-commerce strategies, enhancing product presentation and distribution efficiency.

Contextual advertising: Google Ads

1716522964 713 Top 3 Strategies for Success

If you want the advertising you invest in to have an immediate effect, it’s worth turning to Google Ads. Google displays paid ads in search results and on Google’s network of partners (on-site ads in the form of banners).

You bid when you search for a keyword for which advertisers have set up a campaign. The search engine determines who will appear in the search results and at what position. When assigning bids, the quality of the landing page, the quality of the ads, and the stated maximum bid per click are all considered.

To start setting up your campaign, simply login to your Google Ads account. Using the service is free, and you’ll find plenty of online tutorials on creating a campaign. However, you may find that it won’t generate valuable traffic if you don’t set it up optimally. Your budget will be wasted on clicks that won’t lead to conversions. This is why most companies resort to the help of agencies, including specialized agencies.

There is probably no industry in which Google Ads campaigns cannot be used. However, advertising can be moderately profitable if there is a lot of competition in the industry and margins are low.

The benefits of this e-commerce strategy are large audience reach, the ability to get the target audience as accurately as possible, and very detailed statistics on results.

The effect of launching a campaign should appear almost immediately. A properly set up campaign will increase traffic to the website. By systematically optimizing the campaign, you can achieve much better results.

You also can use paid Facebook Ads post promotion. It is important to pinpoint your target group, but how do you do it? A popular way is to draw up a customer portrait, that is, to make a collective image of your customer.

This considers age, gender, income level, location, interests and hobbies, and online behavior. Such a person will display a group interested in your services or goods.

Implement personalized product selections

Recommended product block and cross-selling are very powerful internet marketing strategies. In addition to the recommended product block, which shows the analogs of the product being viewed, it is worth paying attention to the website’s functionality.

As a rule, the products in the “You may also like” block are selected based on the pages previously viewed by the customer, his previous purchases on the website, as well as what was purchased by other customers with similar tastes. If this functionality is implemented technically sound, it can lead to additional items added to the shopping cart. “You may also like” block partly acts as an alternative to the advice of a specialist or consultant.

With blocks for cross-selling related products is a similar situation. Usually, in them are placed products from the same product line, collection, or simply those that perfectly match the product being viewed. You can use AI-powered live chats to proactively engage in customer conversations and suggest products based on their behavior.

Conclusion

E-commerce for manufacturers is a vast field, and in this article, we have presented the most popular and most effective forms of selling online. Remember, no effective e-commerce strategy exists. Each industry and business will have specifics. Try combining the above mentioned e-commerce strategies to maximize your chances of success and increase your profits.

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Why Even Crushing Content Failures Aren’t Mistakes

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Why Even Crushing Content Failures Aren’t Mistakes

Did you follow the Apple iPad Pro content debacle?

Here’s a quick recap. A recent online ad for the new iPad Pro showed a large hydraulic press slowly crushing various symbols of creativity. A metronome, a piano, a record player, a video game, paints, books, and other creative tools splinter and smash as the Sonny and Cher song All I Ever Need Is You plays.

The ad’s title? “Crush!”

The point of the commercial — I think — is to show that Apple managed to smush (that’s the technical term) all this heretofore analog creativity into its new, very thin iPad Pro.  

To say the ad received bad reviews is underselling the response. Judgment was swift and unrelenting. The creative world freaked out.

On X, actor Hugh Grant shared Tim Cook’s post featuring the ad and added this comment: “The destruction of the human experience. Courtesy of Silicon Valley.”

When fellow actor Justine Bateman shared the Tim Cook post, she simply wrote, “Truly, what is wrong with you?” Other critiques ranged from tone-challenged to wasteful to many worse things.

Actor Justine Bateman shared Tim Cook’s post on X, which featured the ad, and added this comment: "Truly, what is wrong with you?".

A couple of days later, Apple apologized and canceled plans to air the ad on television.

How not-so-great content ideas come to life

The level of anger surprises me. Look, the ad does show the eyeballs on an emoji-faced squishy ball popping under the plates’ pressure, but still. Calling the ad “actually psychotic” might be a skosh over the top.

Yes, the ad missed the mark. And the company’s subsequent decision to apologize makes sense.

But anyone who’s participated in creating a content misfire knows this truth: Mistakes look much more obvious in hindsight.

On paper, I bet this concept sounded great. The brainstorming meeting probably started with something like this: “We want to show how the iPad Pro metaphorically contains this huge mass of creative tools in a thin and cool package.”

Maybe someone suggested representing that exact thing with CGI (maybe a colorful tornado rising from the screen). Then someone else suggested showing the actual physical objects getting condensed would be more powerful.

Here’s my imagined version of the conversation that might have happened after someone pointed out the popular internet meme of things getting crushed in a hydraulic press.

“People love that!”

“If we add buckets of paint, it will be super colorful and cool.”

“It’ll be a cooler version of that LG ad that ran in 2008.”

“Exactly!”

“It’ll be just like that ad where a bus driver kidnaps and subsequently crushes all the cute little Pokémon characters in a bus!” (Believe it or not, that was actually a thing.)

The resulting commercial suffers from the perfect creative storm: A not-great (copycat) idea at the absolutely wrong time.

None of us know what constraints Apple’s creative team worked under. How much time did they have to come up with a concept? Did they have time to test it with audiences? Maybe crushing physical objects fit into the budget better than CGI. All these factors affect the creative process and options (even at a giant company like Apple).

That’s not an excuse — it’s just reality.

Content failure or content mistake?

Many ad campaigns provoke a “What the hell were they thinking?” response (think Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner ad or those cringy brand tributes that follow celebrity deaths).

Does that mean they’re failures? Or are they mistakes? And what’s the difference?

As I wrote after Peloton’s holiday ad debacle (remember that?), people learn to fear mistakes early on. Most of us hear cautionary messages almost from day one.

Some are necessary and helpful (“Don’t stick a knife in a live toaster” or “Look both ways before you cross the street.”) Some aren’t (“Make that essay perfect” or “Don’t miss that goal.”)

As a result, many people grow up afraid to take risks — and that hampers creativity. The problem arises from conflating failure and mistakes. It helps to know the difference.

I moved to Los Angeles in 1987 to become a rock ‘n’ roll musician. I failed. But it wasn’t a mistake. I wasn’t wrong to try. My attempt just didn’t work.

Labeling a failed attempt a “mistake” feeds the fears that keep people from attempting anything creative.

The conflation of failure and mistakes happens all too often in creative marketing. Sure, people create content pieces (and let’s not forget that there are always people behind those ideas) that genuinely count as mistakes.

They also create content that simply fails.

Don’t let extreme reactions make you fear failures

Here’s the thing about failed content. You can do all the work to research your audience and take the time to develop and polish your ideas — and the content still might fail. The story, the platform, or the format might not resonate, or the audience simply might not care for it. That doesn’t mean it’s a mistake.

Was the Apple ad a mistake? Maybe, but I don’t think so.

Was it a failure? The vitriolic response indicates yes.

Still, the commercial generated an impressive amount of awareness (53 million views of the Tim Cook post on X, per Variety.) And, despite the apology, the company hasn’t taken the ad down from its YouTube page where it’s earned more than 1 million views.

The fictional Captain Jean Luc Picard once said, “It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not weakness. That is life.” The Apple ad turns that statement on its head — Apple made many mistakes and still won a tremendous amount of attention.

I’m not suggesting that people shouldn’t criticize creative work. Constructive critiques help us learn from our own and others’ failures. You can even have a good laugh about content fails.

Just acknowledge, as the Roman philosopher Cicero once wrote, “Not every mistake is a foolish one.” 

Creative teams take risks. They try things outside their comfort zone. Sometimes they fail (sometimes spectacularly).

But don’t let others’ expressions of anger over failures inhibit your willingness to try creative things.

Wouldn’t you love to get the whole world talking about the content you create? To get there, you have to risk that level of failure.

And taking that risk isn’t a mistake.

It’s your story. Tell it well.

Subscribe to workday or weekly CMI emails to get Rose-Colored Glasses in your inbox each week. 

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute 



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The Future of Content Success Is Social

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The Future of Content Success Is Social

Here’s a challenge: search “SEO RFP” on Google. Click on the results, and tell me how similar they are.

We did the same thing every other SEO does: We asked, “What words are thematically relevant?” Which themes have my competitors missed?” How can I put them in?” AND “How can I do everything just slightly better than they can?”

Then they do the same, and it becomes a cycle of beating mediocre content with slightly less mediocre content.

When I looked at our high-ranking content, I felt uncomfortable. Yes, it ranked, but it wasn’t overly helpful compared to everything else that ranked.

Ranking isn’t the job to be done; it is just a proxy.

Why would a high-ranking keyword make me feel uncomfortable? Isn’t that the whole freaking job to be done? Not for me. The job to be done is to help educate people, and ranking is a byproduct of doing that well.

I looked at our own content, and I put myself in the seat of a searcher, not an SEO; I looked at the top four rankings and decided that our content felt easy, almost ChatGPT-ish. It was predictable, it was repeatable, and it lacked hot takes and spicy punches.

So, I removed 80% of the content and replaced it with the 38 questions I would ask if I was hiring an SEO. I’m a 25-year SME, and I know what I would be looking for in these turbulent times. I wanted to write the questions that didn’t exist on anything ranking in the top ten. This was a risk, why? Because, semantically, I was going against what Google was likely expecting to see on this topic. This is when Mike King told me about information gain. Google will give you a boost in ranking signals if you bring it new info. Maybe breaking out of the sea of sameness + some social signals could be a key factor in improving rankings on top of doing the traditional SEO work.

What’s worth more?

Ten visits to my SEO RFP post from people to my content via a private procurement WhatsApp group or LinkedIn group?

One hundred people to the same content from search?

I had to make a call, and I was willing to lose rankings (that were getting low traffic but highly valued traffic) to write something that when people read it, they thought enough about it to share it in emails, groups, etc.

SME as the unlock to standout content?

I literally just asked myself, “Wil, what would you ask yourself if you were hiring an SEO company? Then I riffed for 6—8 hours and had tons of chats with ChatGPT. I was asking ChatGPT to get me thinking differently. Things like, “what would create the most value?” I never constrained myself to “what is the search volume,” I started with the riffs.

If I was going to lose my rankings, I had to socially promote it so people knew it existed. That was an unlock, too, if you go this route. It’s work, you are now going to rely on spikes from social, so having a reason to update it and put it back in social is very important.

Most of my “followers” aren’t looking for SEO services as they are digital marketers themselves. So I didn’t expect this post to take off HUGLEY, but given the content, I was shocked at how well it did and how much engagement it got from real actual people.

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