The Road To Understanding

A piece from the eMarketer group caught my eye yesterday.  The headline was Marketers Can’t Avoid Technology Anymore.

Figure 1: Simple schematic for a data warehous...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Off the top of my head it made me wonder who exactly was trying to avoid it since there isn’t a single company that comes to mind where technology isn’t sort of a big deal.  As it turns out, the article was about a subset of tech, big data, and how professionals need to up marketing technology investments if they hope to make sense of this data as well as to focus on integrating technologies and data across channels..  No doubt with a big caveat.

This hints at the issue:

April 2014 research by Accenture also found big data was top of mind for the majority of executives worldwide, with 59% saying it was extremely important. Of course, technologies are needed to make sense of and combine all of this information, and Accenture noted that using such tools to understand big data could transform an entire enterprise—if done correctly.

It’s the “done correctly” part that’s the caveat.  The road to understanding doesn’t begin with technology.  It doesn’t begin with a fully integrated series of systems or a huge data warehouse.  It starts with something much simpler that’s often overlooked.  It starts with some basic questions.

  • What do we need to know?
  • Why do we want to know it?
  • Once we know it, what actions can we take to use it to grow our business?
  • How is what we have going to improve our relationship with our customers?
  • When prospects encounter us, whether online or off, which of these data points will help us convert them to customers?

My guess, based on a fair number of experiences, is that many of the aforementioned companies are just puking up data instead of using the data to develop actionable business information.  The eMarketer piece concludes this way:

Companies that avoid implementing and using marketing technology to make sense of data have an uncertain future. Nearly 80% of execs agreed that companies that did not embrace big data would lose their competitive advantage—and possibly face extinction.

I agree with that but if they don’t do the above while traveling the road to understanding and having asked some questions before they embrace and develop big data, extinction is just as likely.

What’s been your experience with this?


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Filed under Consulting, Reality checks

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