As companies around the world are finding means of going green by adopting various measures. And many sustainability practitioners and companies who’ve adopted sustainability practices would tell you that ‘sustainability makes business sense and in the long run contributes to well-being and adds value’ Tim Graettinger in this article adds one more measure to the list – ‘bring data mining to your organization’

Excerpts from the article

  • “Are we in the right locations?”
  • “Where should we open a new site?”
  • “How big should it be?”
  • “Which existing sites should be closed?”
  • “Which sites should be relocated to bigger/smaller facilities?”

Data mining (DM) can help answer these questions.  Using a combination of geographic, demographic, and behavioral information for existing customers and sites, DM can estimate how many people will come to a new location, how many will switch from an existing one, and the like.

Certainly, many factors influence decisions to open, close, or re-locate facilities.  And this is all very important from a business standpoint, but what does it have to do with going green?  First, data mining can provide estimates of average driving times and distances to new, existing, or re-located facilities.  Other factors being equal, decisions can be made that will reduce drive time and distance – and thereby fuel – resulting in happier customers, happier employees, and a happier planet. Further, by estimating the number of customers that will come to a newly-proposed or a re-located site, data mining helps to “right-size” the facility

Selecting the right customers and prospects to visit is analogous to selecting the right persons to mail in the direct marketing application discussed above.  Some differences exist for B2B versus B2C sales and marketing, but the core concepts and approach are exactly the same from a data mining perspective.

 The new mantra to DM is to “mail the right offer to the right person at the right time.”  Clearly, this call to action is contingent on information – about demographics, lifestyle, life stage[1], preferences, and past buying behavior.  To take action, though, requires mining that data to estimate all the critical propensities: who will buy, when, and how much.

So, what is the business benefit of data mining in this instance?  What is the environmental benefit?  For the business, data mining can increase – or at least maintain – revenue while decreasing print costs by selecting the right promotions, the right recipients, and the right times to mail.  The results are increased profits and increased return on investment (ROI).  The positives for the environment include: less paper, less printing, and less energy input to produce the mail pieces, less fuel required to deliver them, and fewer pieces going to waste.  It makes for happier customers and prospects, too, when they are receiving timely, relevant offers from your company.

The business and “green” benefits are similar as well.  With a sales and marketing force focused on more productive customers and prospects, they can close more business with less time on the road.  That means they can grow the business while leveling or even reducing travel expenses.  The planet will thank you for keeping a small carbon footprint.  And your sales force will thank you for improving their close rates, their morale, and their bonuses – and maybe even for the opportunity to spend a little more time at home with their families.