Wake Up Call: Being Data-Driven Means You Need To Be Driven By Data

Jeff Winsper_Headshot (1)By Jeff Winsper, President, Black Ink

Data-driven marketing is more than a marketing buzzword — it’s a seismic shift in the way marketing operates; where the art of marketing meets the science of marketing. For those trying to take advantage of using data to drive demand, here are few thoughts to consider.

Leadership Plays A Major Role

Useful data can save lives on one end of the spectrum and start coups in countries on the other end. “Really?” you may ask. Yes. At the BMA14 annual conference, I conducted a panel  on “how to be a data-driven business in a data-driven economy.”  We started the conversation at a high level to frame up the bigger picture for the attendees who were primarily comprised of executives and industry leaders from global B2B organizations. This is a great place to start because these companies have leaders who steer the ship and set the course direction for the organization. If the c-suite has a deep appreciation on how to leverage data, it is far easier to right the ship, set-up processes and the underlying tech support required, and most importantly, applying it to your competitive advantage. Joe Puthusary, VP, Marketing of Cisco’s Global Demand Center, made an interesting comment during the panel discussion about how he was able to effectively lead and manage his global team using data and insight at the core.

Benefits Of Using Data In Making Decisions

Benefits Of Using Data In Making Decisions (Click to enlarge)

Recent research conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (in partnership with Applied Predictive Technologies [APT]) discovered that global business leaders are much more likely to describe their approach to making significant management decisions as being “data-driven” (42%) than “intuitive” (10%).

The benefits are clear:  The more you know about what matters most to your customer, the easier it is to build omni-channel experiences that meet their needs. Research from Teradata suggests the benefits creates better personalization, though only 50% of large companies use data to help drive better decision making.

Obstacles For Those Who Are Driven By Data

If using data drives better demand, then what are the obstacles for the remaining 50% who don’t use data to its fullest potential?   Resources, technology and costs.

According to the survey, there are several obstacles to becoming a data-driven marketing organization. The biggest problem is the lack of process by which to bring insights into decision-making (42%), although a similar proportion (39%) also complains of inadequate, outdated technology (39%). Other barriers include data-driven marketing not being a high funding priority (35%), issues with team skills and talent (31%). Only about one-quarter say that there’s a lack of knowledge or consensus around its importance (27%), that there’s an ability to show measurable benefit or ROI (25%), or that they lack the necessary data (22%).

A couple of those problems are looked at in greater detail. With regards to technology solutions, the researchers find that only about one-third currently have a big data analytics solution, but that 71% plan to implement one in the next 2 years. Even so, only 57% expect to couple their technology solution with a complementary real-time decisioning solution.

  • Resources: When it comes to staffing up and driving on data-driven initiatives, there’s often confusion in whose job it is run and manage the project.
  • Costs: When organizations undertake big data projects, in most cases it requires the company to invest in new infrastructure (costs) and it also requires the organization to have the necessary resources in place to support these.
  • Data quality: Sometimes less is more. Let’s face it, data is exploding and what you don’t use is as important as what you do with it. Use versus useful.

In summary, when it comes to data-driven marketing initiatives, it becomes the responsibility of the organization as a whole, not just the individual marketing department, to build and facilitate this initiative. It takes leadership and integration across the organization to face the hurdles that come with shifting to being an organization driven by data. That said, for those organizations that spearhead big data initiatives and see them through to completion, they will find the reward much greater than those who don’t.

About The Author

Jeff is the President of Black Ink. Black Ink software enables marketers and executives to have an enterprise-wide view of marketing’s performance and resulting financial contribution to the business’ bottom line. Jeff offers more than 20 years of leadership experience in marketing, serving companies ranging from Fortune 500 to start ups.  This experience generated the insight that companies are lacking the foundation of proper big data analytics to measure marketing’s performance. Prior to launching Black Ink, Jeff founded marketing agency Winsper, part of Worldwide Partners, with 137 offices in 54 countries. Previously, he was EVP at Mullen, one of the nation’s top brand agencies. And prior to that, he co-founded the agency that became Leo Burnett/Boston, New England’s largest business-to-business agency with annual billings of $260 million.

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