Marketers See Value in Big Data Analytics, But Face Hurdles

Feeling the pressure to become more data-driven, marketers agree that big data analytics will be an integral part of their organizations going forward. But a lack of data analytics skills and antiquated business processes are hampering their efforts.

Marketers overwhelmingly agree that big data analytics will become a major component of their business over the next several years—71 percent say they plan to implement big data analytics within the next two years—but most have a long way to go before they're ready to untangle the "data hairball" they're holding.

That's according to the recently released Teradata Data Driven Marketing Survey 2013, conducted through a blind survey of 2,200 marketers worldwide in March and May this year.

Teradata defines data-driven marketing as the combination of collecting and connecting large amounts of data, rapidly analyzing it and gaining insights, and then bringing those insights to market via marketing interactions tailored to what's relevant for each customer.

"The concept of marketing being data-driven is not new," says Wes Moore, vice president at Teradata Applications. "That's probably existed since the beginning of marketing. But the channels and the expectations of the consumer are changing. The need for marketers to be more data-driven is bubbling to the top."

That's not to say marketers don't already leverage data. Moore notes that most marketers rely on a number of common and easily accessible forms of data to drive their marketing initiatives. For instance, more than 75 percent of those surveyed said they use customer service data, customer satisfaction data, digital interaction data and demographic data. More than 50 percent of marketers say they've taken a further step and use data including customer engagement, transactional or ecommerce data.

Data-Driven Marketing Requires Untangling the Unstructured Data

But taking it to the next level requires more. It requires the capability to collect and analyze massive amounts of complicated, unstructured data—what Teradata calls the "data hairball." In other words, marketers need to combine the traditional data their companies have collected with interaction data (like data pulled from social media), integrating both online and offline data sources to create a single view of their customer.

"It's about really understanding that customer from an online and offline perspective; a 360 degree view," Moore says. "Marketers are struggling to stitch that view together. You have to have that in place first before you can do other elements. First you've got to get that insight."

Marketers Say Data Is the Organization's Most Underutilized Asset

Many marketers are currently pessimistic about their ability to leverage data. Teradata found that nearly 50 percent of marketers feel data is the most underutilized asset in their organization, and less than 10 percent of respondents felt their organization currently uses the data they already have in a systematic way. Only 18 percent of marketers say they have a single, integrated view of customer actions.

Moreover, 75 percent of marketers say the lack of system integration makes it difficult for them to calculate their Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI), and 65 percent report that data silos within their marketing department keep them from having a holistic view of a campaign across channels.

All these reasons, Moore says, are key drivers for marketing to deploy a big data analytics solution within the next few years. Even then, Teradata says many will continue to wrestle with the data hairball, as only 57 percent of marketers plan to deploy a real-time decisioning solution to complement the analytics solution within the same time period.

Manual Business Processes Are a Roadblock

While most marketing departments are already headed in the right direction when it comes to leveraging their data, they are running into roadblocks as they go. Teradata says the roadblocks are often not the result of technology adoption, but a shortage of data analytics skills and a reliance on unrefined processes. In fact, 42 percent of companies list a lack of processes to bring insights into their decision making as their main barrier to using data in decision making.

Teradata found that 48 percent of all marketers still just use data on an ad hoc basis. Only 33 percent have embedded data systematically or strategically into their standard processes.

"You've got to have tools in place to allow you to be more agile at what you do," Moore says. "You've got to automate processes. Many marketers still rely on the number one tool on the globe, which is Excel spreadsheets. You've got to find ways to be more optimized."

However, that is set to change: 80 percent of marketers say that within two years they will have implemented or begun projects to automate data quality, performance management and marketing workflow processes; within the next 12 months, 56 percent of marketers expect to be using data to systematically drive their marketing.

What Data-Driven Marketing Means for the CIO

What does all this mean for CIOs? Teradata points out that most marketing departments lack control of data management and strategy and rely on IT to get access to pertinent data.

It's become the conventional wisdom that as marketing becomes more data-driven and reliant on IT processes, the chief marketing officer (CMO) will become the CIO's biggest customer. But conventional wisdom aside, few marketers currently see IT as their allies. Teradata found 74 percent of marketers don't think marketing and IT are strategic partners.

Data scientists in the marketing department have a somewhat different view. Teradata found that 35 percent of data scientists in marketing departments view marketing and IT as a partnership. Teradata suggests these data scientists often serve as a bridge between the marketing and IT organizations.

Moore says that the trend toward data-driven marketing presents the opportunity for a détente between marketing and IT, a chance for CMOs and CIOs to come together to produce results and increase their importance to the business.

"How do you partner with your marketing or IT counterpart? You've got to define success now and you've got to deliver on it," Moore says. "Use that success as the building block and foundation for your next success and third success."

Check it out this infographic on untangling big data:

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Click to enlarge

Thor Olavsrud covers IT Security, Big Data, Open Source, Microsoft Tools and Servers for CIO.com. Follow Thor on Twitter @ThorOlavsrud. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline, Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn. Email Thor at tolavsrud@cio.com

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