Data-Centricity, Marketing Dashboards, AI, Transparency, Etc.

You’ll have to forgive me. Forces are conspiring — and it’s giving me a “deer in headlights” feeling. And I’m not alone.

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You’ll have to forgive me. Forces are conspiring — and it’s giving me a “deer in headlights” feeling. And I’m not alone.

On the one hand, business organizations are set on data-driven transformation, according to The Winterberry Group’s “The Data-Centric Organization 2018” report, in partnership with the Data and Marketing Association and Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Data Center for Excellence. The report is an update of a previous study, so there is comparison data from 2017 to 2016 from which to spot trends.

The newest report, however, gives some pause on our collective march toward data fluency.

“A majority of marketers are rolling out strategies to support data-centricity … but relatively few say they’ve generated results,” the report concluded. Much of this report of scarcity is timing — nearly half say their strategy is being developed but not yet implemented. As a result, 12.3 percent of the most recent study respondents reported “strategy has been developed, implemented and is delivering results.”

Yet just a year ago, 28.6 percent reported favorably on the same question. Which begs the question, why the drop off? Did we go backward?

Perhaps not. Could it be that the more we (organizations) learn about data-centricity, the more we learn that there’s much more to learn? Think about it, it’s a question of confidence.

Conceptually, we may well understand that a “full view of the customer” is required to enable “customer-focused” business activities. This simple premise from the earliest days of (customer relationship management) CRM presents a whole new set of challenges when considering the volume, velocity and variability of “big data,” mobile data, social data, location data, transaction data, cross-device data and the algorithms that seek to create relevance and drive business and media decisions. Prior to integration, all this data needs to be staged, parsed, cleansed to protect against “garbage-in, garbage-out” outcomes. Enter the forest. The CMO had best hold a compass with the chief technology/information officer.

Add in the insatiable demand for analytics know-how — the “plastics” of our day — where we have tremendous demand, supplemented by artificial intelligence tools that some may or may not understand quite yet, and wow, it’s a recipe for uncertainty. Just what will the marketing dashboard of the future look like?

And we haven’t even talked about policy and ethics considerations: fraud prevention, transparency, governance, security, permissions, preferences and restrictive global regulatory regimes (General Data Protection Regulation and ePrivacy Regulation).

Yet what’s enduring in the data-centric study is industry’s determination to get it right: 44.4 percent of respondents expect that their organization will be “extremely data-centric” by 2019 (two years’ time from the taking of the survey). Truly, what choice do we have but to learn the data to serve the customer?

As the study’s authors report in part, “Experience=Awareness.” It’s easier (and dangerous) to shrug off the impacts of data centricity’s demands, when you’re still at the starting line. Take a few steps, and lo and behold, the complexities and intricacies take focus.

Next post, we’ll examine some study recommendations – a helpful look at people, platforms, partners and process. Awareness may not help a deer in time, but thankfully we can learn from our practice.

Author: Chet Dalzell

Marketing Sustainably: A blog posting questions, opportunities, concerns and observations on sustainability in marketing. Chet Dalzell has 25 years of public relations management and expertise in service to leading brands in consumer, donor, patient and business-to-business markets, and in the field of integrated marketing. He serves on the ANA International ECHO Awards Board of Governors, as an adviser to the Direct Marketing Club of New York, and is senior director, communications and industry relations, with the Digital Advertising Alliance. Chet loves UConn Basketball (men's and women's) and Nebraska Football (that's just men, at this point), too! 

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