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5 Steps To Turn Your Organization Into A Digital Analytics Pacesetter
Are you making the most of the data you're collecting, or are you falling behind? Follow these precepts to move your business forward.
Who in the brave new world of data-driven marketing wouldn’t rather be considered a pacesetter than a traditionalist?
To those of you who saw yourselves in the categories of IBM’s recent report on CMOs in the digital marketing realm and weren’t flattered by your self-reflection, take heart. Whether you’re a “Traditionalist,” “Social Strategist” or “Digital Pacesetter,” there are ample opportunities to get your organization to the next level – and countless leaders across the spectrum who are trying to figure it out alongside you.
This latest research is a follow-up on a 2013 IBM report that sorted marketers into the categories of “scientists,” “constrained analysts” and “traditional marketers,” and the most recent batch of C-Suite insights illustrates the wide range of abilities to make sense of all the data that organizations collect in the hopes of wringing some value from it.
“Traditionalists” are challenged by the data explosion and tend to just try to keep their heads above water: as a result, they rarely use analytics to extract insights from the data they collect.
The “Social Strategists” are a little farther along, having passed the first few milestones and, in many cases, having set up a solid data foundation but they haven’t yet begun to harness the power of data and advanced analytics.
“Digital Pacesetters” are the organizations that are already regularly using advanced analytics to generate insights from their data that are propelling their organizations forward.
The bright side is that all of the CMOs responding to this survey understand the opportunity their data presents, regardless of whether they’ve been able to capitalize on it so far. And, regardless of how far along your organization is, the ultimate question is how to move along the continuum and unlock your data’s value.
Unfortunately, there’s no magic balloon ride you can take from the bottom directly to the top of the digital analytics maturity curve, but there are several key steps that can help you keep moving in the right direction.
1. Gauge Your Technical Proficiency
It matters little where you are in terms of technical prowess, there is never a better time than now to determine whether your existing technologies and tools are capable of accurately collecting the data you need.
You’ll want to look up and down your technology stack to see how things like your customer relationship management (CRM) system, clickstream web analytics, back-end data systems and traditional business intelligence systems are integrated and how they’re storing and making your data accessible. If they’re not performing as well as you’d like, it might be time to review your architecture to ensure your data is going to be trustworthy and useful.
2. Employ Organizational Governance
Though we tend to hope that investing in the top tools will give us an edge, the sad truth is that without the support of senior leadership, without investing in the training to get the most out of the tools, and without setting clear objectives, relying on tech solutions could just turn out to be an expensive path to failure. Get your stakeholders together to assess whether your current data strategy is clearly articulated, coherent and understood by everyone at the table.
Leaders from traditional to pace-setting organizations will benefit from stepping up to a whiteboard and mapping out questions such as: Who owns web analytics? How are stakeholders sharing digital and media data? How are marketing and IT departments going to work together? What can we realistically accomplish in 3, 6, 12, or 18 months?
The most rapidly maturing and successful organizations will not be the ones with the most perfect answers to these questions, but those who work to improve those answers by establishing an internal Center of Excellence or Digital Analytics Board that represents all of these stakeholders and then meets regularly to stay on track.
3. Invest In Data Savvy People
You may have all the data and technical resources at your fingertips, but if your organization doesn’t have the right people to properly leverage them, it’s a moot point. The inclusion of technical implementation resources, experienced analysts, data scientists and data architects, along with business users who are proficient in data-driven, decision-making methodologies are vital to your organization’s success.
Hire data-driven experts who can find stories in your data, share insight into what’s working and what’s not working, and deliver digestible and actionable reports and findings based upon data accuracy and integrity. And then invest in their success: offering things like ongoing professional development & training, mentorship programs and thought leadership opportunities produce benefits for the whole organization.
4. Push Your Data To Its Limits
Getting great business intelligence out of your data begins with explicitly mapping your business objectives to the data you need. Understanding this interplay will then inform the proper framework and key performance indicators (KPIs) that will ultimately measure success or failure.
This mapping process will yield knowledge about whether the right data is being collected, whether the correct segments are being applied, how to define and measure success, and where to look for areas of potential improvements, opportunities and growth.
In practice, moving forward with respect to data maturity is often a process of fits and starts that will require more work in a particular area depending on how solid your organization’s commitment to a data strategy is – and the desire to improve it – but it’s being done every day.
5. Never Stop Improving Your Process
Whether you consider your organization a “digital pacesetter” or not, your foot should never come off the gas. Create a process improvement team that continually reevaluates current processes, technologies and tools, methodologies and partnerships to ensure your organization is aware of and taking full advantage of the appropriate data opportunities, while eliminating any potential time wasters.
The word “process” may not always be the most popular term in your organization, but these efforts will certainly reap benefits when properly executed. Institute formal frameworks such as Agile or (Lean) Six Sigma to use across teams and departments to ensure continual improvement throughout the organization. Process improvement will make your organization stronger, and it will help you gain a competitive advantage.
Does This Transformation Actually Happen In Real Life?
To make this a little more real, Brian Harris, Chief Product and Marketing Officer of Western Union Business Solutions, recently shared some insights with us at Cardinal Path about how his global enterprise is moving through the various stages of maturity.
“I’d say we’re not yet true pacesetters, as the IBM report defines those terms, but we’ve made great strides,” Harris said. “We’ve made the investments into various tools, yes, but the fundamental shift we’ve made because of those investments has been from being a very sales-driven organization to relying on our customer and prospect data to drive the way we deliver value.”
Harris – who shared that his organization relies on Salesforce, Oracle systems including Eloqua, and other infrastructure components to round out its ability to get a 360-degree view of its customers and prospects – says they’ve been able to advance their analytics strategy by gaining a better understanding of how their data activities translate into making their customers happier.
“We are absolutely still competing on traditional points such as value, service and price, but great customer experiences are at the core,” Harris said.
“We’re using analytics to help customers really understand their business in profoundly different ways. We’re in the payment space and giving them an understanding of their invoice-level data all the way up to their business-level data, which allows us to partner with them in seeing their business in ways they’d never been able to before.”
You Can Do It
Every organization has the potential to evolve from relying solely on tradition to pace-setting.
It can feel overwhelming, but in the end, businesses that ignore the truths found in an ever-increasing pool of data will be left behind. And regardless of your starting point, when it comes to leveraging your data to drive your business objectives, there’s always room to grow and then reach even higher.
(Stock images via Shutterstock.com. Used under license.)
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.