How do successful marketers drive ROI from a Data Strategy?

by Martin Soley – Commercial Director DCA

DCA (Database Consultants Australia) co- hosted with ADMA two roundtable luncheon forums across Melbourne and Sydney with Senior Marketing professionals discussing the topic of successfully driving ROI (Return on Investment) from a data strategy.

It was a great way of discussing the usage and application of data, sharing challenges and trading war stories. Here are some of my personal takeaways over those two days:

  • Skills shortage: many of the delegates were concerned that a lot of their staff do not have the necessary blend of creative marketing and practical data skills to use the data they hold effectively. Senior marketers that were able to utilise skilled data resources that could fulfil data wrangling, analytics and data quality practices and apply this to a business problem were generally considered more successful.

I think for many marketers the goal posts have changed in terms of requiring a broader skill set in understanding the data they hold and how this can be best utilised within their business.

  • Data ownership: two paradigms were discussed in relation to data ownership. Firstly, who owns the data within your own organisation? Many cited that getting access to the data they required was fraught with difficultly. Often held within systems that had strong IT ownership. This slows down progress. It was felt there needs to be a strong mandate at the C-Suite to allow organisations to realise the full potential of the data asset they own – bringing together cross-functional expertise where necessary.  Many felt they had not reached the full potential yet because this clear mandate was not provided by C-Suite or not followed through at operational level.

Secondly, there was a perception of mistrust when partnering with third parties around the entitlement and usage of their data.  What will you do with our data if we work together? If we provide you with our data will we relinquish control over our data ownership? Will you leverage a stronger commercial position as a consequence of accessing our data?

There needs to be clear objectives mandated at a strategic level with a culture developed that allows cross-functional teams to work together to achieve these objectives. Easier said, than done, the bottom line is that market professionals require data and technology experts to help them achieve their objectives.  Not just the ’shiny‘ new technology or creative design but the practical steps like ensuring data quality and data governance processes are in place.

  • Industry buzzwords like ’Big Data‘ caused confusion in the market and it’s now starting to unravel with many: Many organisations were grappling with industry buzzwords that often plaque the market. What does this mean for my organisation and my role? It created unnecessary ’noise‘ in their day job. Granted it elevated the profile of data within the market, but many felt the fundamentals of data management had long been established before the ’Big Data‘ bandwagon started. Many of the participants are starting to build real-life practical steps to utilise their data more effectively. Here are some of the examples over the two days:
    • Achieving a single customer view – tackling what can be a large project and breaking this down into small bite size pieces of data work and demonstrating that you can deliver on each part. This builds trust with the executives and installs confidence in the project team.
    • Using the data you hold to drive top down decision making – having the resources and the technology to wrangle and visualise data and make sense of the data you hold is imperative. Focus is also important – analysing data for the sake of analysing does not produce solid business outcomes. Focus on data that really makes a difference to the overall business /marketing objective. Make sure you can trust that data and outliers in the data can be quickly investigated.
    • We should stop using the word Artificial Intelligence and change to ’Applied‘ Intelligence – this was quoted on one of the days and it resonated with me. I hear from so many organisations talking about the use of Artificial Intelligence, when they do not spend the time to properly frame the business problem they are trying to solve. Dismissing the tacit knowledge inherent within organisations and applying this experience – allied with advanced computer computation provides a better basis for solving most problems. Augmented Intelligence seems more apt – together with skilled resources and good quality data sources to achieve a better return on your data strategy.
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