A Proactive Approach to Surviving the Data Flood
The dreaded data bottleneck. Every department in every enterprise has one (at least). And they all must be smashed if your organization hopes to leverage all the competitive advantage that’s buried deep inside your data.
The best place to start breaking some bottles is in marketing, because clearing a path there will have the biggest impact on your top line everywhere else.
So what are and where are the data bottlenecks in marketing?
One Department, Three Bottlenecks
The first and most obvious bottleneck occurs just trying to get the data into the system. Yes, your front end people are always finding newer and better ways to capture raw data, but they’ve become victims of their own success. The sheer volume of the data they’re capturing is overwhelming. Worse, once they do pass along that data, it’s not “useable” without tons of manual manipulation by the people receiving it.
This is where the second bottleneck comes into play. Your analytics people are the bridge between the raw data and the people who need it to create the marketing campaigns that build your business. The more time they devote to the manual processing of all the different types of data they receive, the less time they spend on the high value-add work they were hired for: the trend-spotting, the customer models, the real business analytics that your organization’s long-term success is built on.
Which brings us to the third bottleneck: your business team. They have big plans for your data. They want insights to share across their teams. They want customer segmentation. They want real ways to measure campaign results. Stuck with data they can’t access or that has been merely processed instead of analyzed, your business team needs to go to someone else to get the answers they need. They become trapped in their own little world, forced to go with ineffective “batch and blast” campaigns that barely scratch the surface of all the information your data holds.
And here’s the catch: while busting just one of these bottlenecks is a real accomplishment, it ultimately doesn’t solve your end-to-end problem. It just sets up bigger problems downstream. Fixing the data loading problem, for example, just sends more data for your already beleaguered analysts to process. To take the next step forward, your organization needs a holistic solution to addressing all three of your marketing data challenges.
A Next-Generation Approach to Self-Service Marketing
Busting long-established data bottlenecks starts with busting long-established ways of dealing with them. Take our first bottleneck: the moving, cleaning and preparation of data. As the average company moves from gigabytes to petabytes of disparate data, it throws more people and brains at the problem. But more people is not the answer. More automation and better efficiency is. Load in the data, throw the right algorithms on top of that data, and you suddenly have a way to organize it in a much more efficient manner. This is the way you bust bottleneck #1.
But it doesn’t stop there. Automation is also the data analysts’ life blood. It allows them to spend less time on mundane “janitorial” tasks, and more time delivering the customer segmentation, test setups and campaign reporting they were hired to deliver. Think of it this way: Would you rather have your analysts figure out how many people bought a certain pair of shoes or why they bought them? It’s all about focus and then intent. And automation provides the efficient means to get there, fast.
Efficient automation creates a streamlined simplicity all the way downstream, ultimately breaking the third bottleneck where the marketers sit. It’s simplicity best exemplified in intuitive business interfaces that empower rather than baffle the business teams that need to use them. No longer is the data confusing or inaccessible. It’s there to do what it’s supposed to do: help marketers monitor, discover, target, activate, measure and, of course, iterate on learnings.
Faint-Hearted Businesses Need Not Apply
The bottlenecks we’ve discussed here are real, and like it or not, they’re holding back your business.
The good news is that the solutions are out there that can eliminate them forever, but it requires more than a gentle shove. It requires an aggressive, proactive approach to breaking down inefficiencies not just in process, but in thought.
Yes, there will be a shakeup across your existing personnel and technology. But it’s a necessary one that every organization is going to have to champion if it hopes to thrive in the Age of Alexa—where anyone in your organization can ask a question of your data, and receive an answer in a language they understand.