Businesses Spending on Big Data Marketing but Not Hiring for It

Marketing organizations are continuing to increase their budgets for big data marketing initiatives, but most are focusing on technology, not talent. That could be a costly mistake.

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Thu, January 30, 2014

CIO — Marketing organizations are gearing up to increase their budgets for big data marketing initiatives in 2014, but is their focus in the right place?

A report by data-driven marketing specialist Infogroup Targeting Solutions found that companies are continuing to ramp up their spending on big data marketing initiatives in 2014 (62 percent of companies expect their big data marketing budgets to increase). However, most of those companies are focusing on technology, not people—57 percent of companies say they do not plan to hire new employees for their data efforts in 2014.

Big data hiring

That may be a costly error in the long run, says David McRae, president of Infogroup Targeting Solutions.

"The survey findings also indicate that marketers are moving from the information-gathering stage to the analytics phase of big data adoption," McRae says. "But a downturn in hiring could stall big data implementation, as the need for human capital is greatest during the analysis and action stages."

"Big data is meaningless without manpower," he adds. "While it's exciting that most companies are making bigger investments in big data, marketers should not forget that it takes people to make sense of the information. Hiring before reaching the analytics stage enables companies to become data-led and act on the data."

Of those marketers that are planning to hire for data-related positions this year, 59 percent plan to hire a data analyst or strategist.

Infogroup surveyed nearly 400 marketers at the Direct Marketing Association's DMA 2013 conference in October for its Big Data's Big Step report. It found that 54 percent of marketers have already invested in big data, and 61 percent of those early adopters already report positive ROI. Also, many marketers expect to start seeing a positive ROI in the next year (23 percent) or two years (23 percent).

Additionally, more than half of the early adopters say they are well into or past the initial data access phase of their initiatives, having conquered the challenges associated with data collection and cleansing. Those early adopters are now focusing on what Infogroup calls the second and third phases of adoption: insights and deployment.

Marketers have also shifted their perceptions in terms of the barriers they see to big data adoption. In 2012, Infogroup says half of respondents said analyzing or applying data would be their biggest data-related challenge in 2013. Fast-forward a year, and respondents say that budget limitations (35 percent), lack of quality data (27 percent) and limited tools and technology (25 percent) are the biggest challenges they face in using big data to deliver multichannel marketing programs.

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