ETL Is Waste: Your IT Team Won’t Tell You This


It’s one of the most common, time-consuming, and wasteful problems a marketing organization can face. And it’s not just the challenges with click-through or open rates. It’s actually “data logistics” or ETL.

First some background: ETL is an acronym and stands for “extract, transform, load.” It’s the core database functions to move data from one data source into an another. While the technical aspects may lie on the IT side, the effects of ETL on a marketing organization can be staggering.

We’ll set the stage: A large amount of data is collected for a particular marketing organization. But, uh-oh, you may need to change one characteristic of it. Guess what? That means everything goes back to the proverbial drawing board (in this case the original database) and it’s all reloaded. Depending on the size, this could take days or even months to perform again. That means even further delays in access to your marketing data and potential analytics.

A recent GDMA and Winterberry Group research report found that “74.1% of marketers remain confident in the value of data-driven marketing and advertising and its potential for future growth.” As this trend continues to grow, the ETL bottleneck becomes more and more of a concern. Marketers not only want their data now, they need it in order to analyze and react nimbly and precisely with potential customers.

Think about building a sandcastle: You build it on the beach, right? You have all the sand around you—to build more structures or move towers or add a moat. You don’t take all of the sand, move it to the parking lot, and try to construct things there. And then have to continually go back to the beach for more sand! This is the way ETL works and it has to change for modern marketing organizations to succeed. You need all of that data right at your fingertips and the ability to work with it directly and without the constant shuffling.

Think about a marketer trying to build that sandcastle as a marketing campaign with ETL. Most of the work is in the hauling of sand (a.k.a. E and L)! But what they really want to be doing is the “T” and manipulating it themselves. Problem is they just can’t get to it. The T is literally stuck between a rock and a hard place for them.

The good news? ETL is being destroyed and completely rebuilt. Now you can turn on an absolute fire hose of data from your database directly into your marketing analytics platform. Instead of ETL, we are moving into an era of “ELT”—extract, load, and then transform. The transformations happen after loading, which means any changes don’t require reloading.

What seems like merely swapping two letters requires technological innovations at the fundamental layer, and has groundbreaking effects that ripple throughout entire marketing organization. You get the data directly, and for the first time you have the power to analyze, transform, and act on it immediately. Finally the T can escape its prison, leave the E and L behind, and reach true freedom.

Learn More About Reverse ETL

Download The Enterprise Guide to Composable CDPs to learn how you can build a better customer data stack using the AIQ CX Hub.

Tamara Gruzbarg
Tamara Gruzbarg
Head of Insights and Strategy
Expert analytics executive with 20+ years of experience, guiding organizations through rapid data transformation and growth. Designed and implemented ML-powered solutions in areas of Customer Acquisition, Personalization, CRM and Campaign Management across Financial Services, Omnichannel Retail and Media.

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