Hype Is Holding Back the Power of Data for Business

Data Success Relies on Constant Adaptation and Coordination Between Marketing and IT

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In the last 24 hours, how many devices have you used to connect to the Internet? How many websites have you visited? How many apps have you used? And how many messages have you sent and received -- personally or professionally -- through digital channels? If you're like most people, it's almost too many to count. This is your new reality. Every interaction, every communication, every touchpoint creates a digital breadcrumb -- a piece of data that can be analyzed and manipulated. The firms that can turn all those breadcrumbs into meaningful insight will dominate.

Big Data Isn't a Tech Stack

Data now plays a huge role in helping your firm win, serve, and retain customers. To that tune, hardly a day goes by when we're not bombarded with messages about the "big data platforms" that will solve all of our marketing problems. Let's be honest though: big data isn't a suite of new technologies that will solve yesterday's challenges or a one-and-done solution that can be bought off the shelf.

Instead, we think that big data is a journey that every company must take to close the gap between the data that's available to them, and the business insights they're deriving from that data. Unfortunately, all the media and market hype has caused confusion and mistrust on the part of marketing leaders about what big data can do, and how they should incorporate it into their business strategy. And that's holding a lot of firms back from maximizing the power of the data at their disposal.

When CMOs embrace big data, though, they find that these practices fundamentally transform marketing -- the organization can begin to shift from campaign-based marketing to dynamic cycles of real-time, two-way, insight-driven interactions based on the customer's context and needs. Clorox, for example, leveraged social listening data and recursive analysis to predict where flu outbreaks would occur. The brand credits a 17% quarterly earning increase to its ability to continuously adapt its media strategy in those markets.

Face Data or Disruption

What's more, even the most traditional industries -- such as agriculture and manufacturing -- face massive disruption if they don't learn how to leverage big data. For example, John Deere & Company is empowering farmers with tools that use weather, satellite imagery, and soil sample data to understand what to plant, when to plant it, and how to distribute the seeds. This strategy is truly visionary; it turns farming into a high-tech, data-savvy business that helps farmers balance intuition with data-driven insights.

But these results don't come easy: success relies on constant adaptation and coordination between marketing and IT stakeholders. CMOs must be at the forefront of big data to better understand their customers, predict behaviors, and drive contextual engagement. Do I expect you to become a technologist overnight? Of course not. But it's imperative that marketers become willing stakeholders in the big data journey. You must help your IT peers understand your business challenges, and your vision for how you will be engaging your customers in the future, whether that's 12 months or five years from now.

You must also be an advisor to the technology strategy process and, conversely, include your IT peers in the buying process for outsourced marketing technology solutions. Your ability to bridge this gap will transform your organization's approach to big data. Only then will you be able to deliver highly personalized customer experiences at scale and maximize business results.

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