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Why Real Estate Platform Opendoor Is Spending Less Time on Net Promoter Scores

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  • Resiliency is an important component for companies to be able to prepare for and respond to the changing world around them.
  • Focusing on the data that a company can control is one way of building resiliency.
  • One example is Opendoor Technologies, the real estate platform, that is now spending less time on net promoter scores and more on unique leading indicators.

What makes some companies achieve longevity and others fade into the background? It's all a matter of resiliency, an umbrella term that generally refers to an organization's preparation for and response to the changing world around them.

A vast majority (97%) of executives believe resiliency is at least somewhat important, but only 47% see their own organization as resilient, according to a recent report from analytics platform SAS. This is described as the resiliency gap, or the void between feeling the need to be resilient and acting on it.

Closing that gap requires focus in several areas, according to Jay Upchurch, executive vice president and chief information officer at SAS, what his company calls the resiliency rules: speed, responsibility, curiosity, innovation, and data culture.

"Historical analytics was always data in the rears," said Upchurch. "You were always taking yesterday's data, trying to mine it for insights with an idea that you could predict the future with that."

But data atrophies over time, and quickly. The resilient companies, he said, measure data that they can control as close to the event as possible.

Raji Subramanian, CTO at Opendoor Technologies, said the residential real estate platform has shifted its data focus from lagging data (otherwise known as output data) to leading data (input data).

Subramanian said it's the input data that actually impacts the output data. In addition, the input data is the data you can control. For example, rather than focusing on the output data of a customer's net promoter score — a measure of customer loyalty and satisfaction gathered by asking customers how likely they are to recommend your product or service to others — Opendoor now looks at input factors, like how quickly it responds to customer requests or how soon after acquiring a home they're able to renovate and resell. Improving these metrics may act as the flywheel that propels a company forward.

"Looking at output alone will not make you resilient because it's too late. It's like looking in the rearview mirror," Subramanian said. But if you can shift your data culture to one that utilizes leading data from the CEO on down, "You can create magic," she said.

Closing the resiliency gap

This process can also combat data overload. "Once you shift the focus from the output to the input, you start isolating the signal from the noise," Subramanian said, taking you from hundreds or thousands of data points to just the ones that make a difference in your organization's overall resiliency.

All of this enables employees focusing on data to harness their curiosity and work in a way that favors innovation, ultimately checking off more resiliency rules and further closing the resiliency gap.

So what about the fact that many executives believe there just aren't enough skilled professionals to take charge?

According to the SAS report, 51% of executives say there's a skills shortage in the data science and engineering realm.

"Good data scientists and engineers are hard to find," Subramanian said. However, when you start refocusing what data you prioritize, "you can use the resources you have to focus on the right problem, and it's a self-fulfilling prophecy," she said. "In some ways, that culture brings more data scientists into the fold because folks are not on the hamster wheel," Subramanian added.

In short, changing the data culture enables employees to perform more meaningful work that impacts the organization at large.

However they pivot, what tech leaders don't want to do is become "data rich and insight poor," said Simon Freakley, CEO of global consulting firm AlixPartners, which specializes in helping corporate clients navigate big transitions.

A good data culture, Freakley said, uses the data for insight "to make purposeful, deliberate, forward-looking business decisions."

According to the 2023 Disruption Index from AlixPartners, disruptions are inevitable, but 75% of business leaders worry that their companies are not adapting fast enough. Speed is one of the key factors in resilience — which is why Freakley believes that "good leaders do it nearly right but do it now" — and emerging technologies like artificial intelligence fuel speed and agility.

"The way that artificial intelligence allows you to expand your human capacity to take an action in real time adds more value to the data and the insights you gained," Upchurch said.

With that capacity comes the need for responsibility, and Upchurch has a few simple words to anyone using AI to enhance data-led agility: "Trust but verify."

Leaders should bake the responsibility factor into the decision-making process for any innovation, from inception to iteration and results measurement, he said.

While addressing the holes in your data culture isn't the only ingredient to organizational resiliency, it's a big one. Upchurch said the SAS resiliency rules are all interwoven, but that "curiosity as the underpinning fuels it all."

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