To Leverage Benefits of Big Data, Close the Collaboration Gap
October 18, 2017
One of the revelations I had when writing this article was that the hardest part of innovation is often the first step. It’s calling that meeting. It’s pitching your idea to the boss. It’s putting pen to paper. The gap between doing nothing and doing something is huge.
And while that gap may be more obvious in areas like R&D, hardware, or operations, the reality is that it’s not unique to those areas. Look no further than marketing to see how this first-step paralysis can halt meaningful progress. That may be due to marketing’s increased dependence on—and reluctance to embrace--information technology to get things done. From mobility to digital transformation agendas to marketing automation, marketing’s job has become more reliant on IT skills than ever before.
Adding fuel to the fire, marketers in the housing community face increased pressure to make their investment more accountable. Executives today expect their brand leaders will know what works, what doesn’t and what to do next. And after speaking with Shaun Quigley, VP of digital at marketing firm Brunner, I realized that organizations need the right people, data process and technology to drive performance.
Easier said than done.
According to Quigley, a “chasm of control” often forms among internal stakeholders over “who owns what.” This chasm prevents companies from using data to simplify the consumer experience and optimize the investment for the business.
Marketing knows they need IT to be successful, but they either actively avoid the IT team, don’t want to step on any toes, or don’t even know where to start. Today, big data is the latest challenge for marketers. According to research firm Gartner, CMOs are actually spending more on technology than IT. But should they?
So I asked Quigley – is a big data chasm between marketing and IT a foregone conclusion? How can housing brands win with data? Who should lead? How do we bridge that chasm?
In short, leadership must foster collaboration across functions, he says. Because the status quo is killing companies’ ability to capitalize on the promise of data-led marketing. CMOs and CIOs should be collaborating, not competing.
While marketing can collect data through programs that go direct to consumers, they don’t have the know-how to store and process data in a secure way. In addition, sales teams can take advantage of integrated web, SEM and even AR/VR solutions that are available today, but they don’t always know if those efforts are working. Customer service is also relying more and more on technology like CRM and chatbots to do their jobs and collect data as well.
These differing groups may have a surface-level understanding of the technical capabilities, but most likely lack the technical skills and access to take an idea from the brainstorm to actual execution.
To be successful, IT must be invited into the fold early. But where does one start? Here’s a game plan:
Step 1. Align marketing, sales and IT around a single business goal and determine performance measures BEFORE finalizing timelines, budgets, and milestones.
Step 2. Identify relevant data sets (owned or third party).
Step 3. Co-sponsor a pilot project that allows for quick learning, taking time to understand challenges of each functional group.
Step 4. Formalize reporting in a way that makes the learning actionable.
Step 5. Repeat.
With collaboration, great things happen. If the building blocks of using data and technology are practiced today, brands will be better equipped to take advantage of tomorrow’s technology tools.