Anchormen and the power of customer data

Big data, data science and artificial intelligence: for many entrepreneurs, words with a magical sound. You have to do something with it because others are doing it too. But what and how remains a question for many. Rutger Wetzels, managing director of Anchormen, is convinced of the power of data-driven entrepreneurship: "It's just a matter of time until every business is driven by this."

Every business, big or small, has data: customer data, surfing and click behaviour, payment data, but also information collected by sensors in machines and devices. Rutger Wetzels helps businesses collect that information, analyse it and deploy it intelligently using data science. "Based on a company's available data, we can make predictions. On this, the company can adjust its operations, for example, improve the production process, schedule maintenance smarter or make better use of the marketing budget."

Tracking click behaviour

As an example, Wetzels mentions machine data in production processes. "Machines are full of sensors. By analysing the historical data from those sensors, you can use algorithms to predict when maintenance is needed and manage risks of downtime." This allows you to schedule maintenance more efficiently and improve machine efficiency. Data is also being used in the consumer market, for example to guide customer behaviour. "All major brands track click behaviour on their website, they use the information you leave on a page and look at your behaviour on their site. This allows a business to provide the customer with the most personalised information possible and thus increase the likelihood of a purchase. For the consumer, the benefit is to make a purchase that suits them best."

The GDPR forces you to organise your data properly internally, it is an opportunity

Large consumer brands are already doing plenty of this, but actually this is interesting for any business operating online. "Technology is becoming increasingly accessible: in the cloud and in the field of open source software, a lot is already available," says Wetzels. "Anyone can use data to optimise their product and provision of services. You get a much better picture of your customers and their preferences. You can use that information to improve your product and your customer approach becomes much more personal. Customer service also benefits from this. When a customer calls with a question, it is nice if the person on the line has all the information about that customer and their purchased product or service together and already knows what they are calling for, so to speak."

"Data-driven processes can benefit any business of any size"

Approaching customers - GDPR-proof

Yet there is one thing that may be holding entrepreneurs back from getting started with data: the new privacy directives of the GDPR (in Dutch: the AVG). "These have a huge impact on data-driven business and that's a good thing! Many entrepreneurs see this as a threat, but it is actually an opportunity. The GDPR forces entrepreneurs to organise their data properly internally and use it only for the purpose for which it was collected. For instance, what you shouldn't do is send unsolicited e-mailings to your customers based on customer behaviour. You can go seriously wrong with that." You need your customer's consent for that. Consent is one of the six bases for processing personal data. A customer can always withdraw that consent.

Another legal basis is to enable the performance of an agreement. To this end, you record name and address details. But only the data you actually need. And if someone asks to be 'forgotten', you have to delete their data. Be careful then, because the administration obligation may force you to keep data for at least seven years anyway.
As a business owner, if you want to work with your data, you first need to know what data is available. "A lot of information is scattered across departments, locked up in separate systems. Make sure you surface this and record why you process this data. Also record how you get the information. Then, possibly with the help of an AVG expert, clarify exactly what you are allowed to do with it. Next, draw up a list of goals you want to achieve. Do this in small steps, to keep it manageable. For example, first collect all your customer data and start working with that. If that goes well, then consider your production process, for example."

Rutger Wetzels

managing director at Anchormen

While studying at The Hague Hotel School, Rutger Wetzels started his first startup in IT. Later, he was an information technology consultant at several IT companies before coming on board at Anchormen in 2008. Since 2017, he has been managing director there.

  • data activators
  • 100 employees
  • Amsterdam
Any business operating online can use data to optimise its product and provision of services.

Rapid growth

"Data-driven processes can benefit any business of any size," says Wetzels. "More customers, a streamlined production process and a better position against your competitors are the main benefits." Wetzels sees from his own business that interest in data is growing rapidly. "We have grown from 25 to 100 employees in two years. Steering on data is gaining momentum. The possibilities are becoming wider and more user-friendly. It's just a matter of time before everyone is working with it."