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Data, Technology, Marketing – Oh my!

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data technology marketing

Data, technology, marketing. These three words have been getting a lot of attention over the past few years which, for me, is rather amusing.

You see, I cut my teeth on data and technology…about 30-years ago.  So this recent focus on “…marketers of tomorrow need to be strategic, creative and tech-savvy…” is not as a big of a discovery for me.

What scares me though is that marketing is setting itself up for a huge fall because the expectations being set by software/tech firms is crazy.

Buy our product and you will be able to create dynamic personalized content that increases sales.

Sure, their product will do that…if certain conditions exist.  And one of the important conditions is have the right data easily available to the marketing technology.

Unfortunately, that’s not happening in a lot of companies today and this means that the investment into the technology is going to produce an ROI that is less than projected.

A few years ago, I was working with a company that sold themselves on a certain marketing automation solution.  The original business case stated that the 7-figure investment would generate higher sales and lower expenses so that the investment would be recouped in the first year.  And the installation/roll-out would take about 6-months.

Several years later, the installation was finally deemed ‘complete’.  The cost had doubled.  The end result was that the company would only utilize about 25-percent of the technology’s capabilities.  And let’s not talk about ‘break-even’ and ‘ROI’.

The reasons?  Data was all over the company, under different owners.  There was no standardization of process or accuracy checking so it was common to have the same customer with records in several systems across the company…and beyond the customer name and number, the rest of the data seemed to contradict each other.

Here’s the deal.  Amazon is able to personalize your content with relevant recommendations because they made data the center of their business.  They figured out how to store the right information in the right place, analyze it quickly and test ways to use that insight in order to achieve business objectives.

Boom.  Boom.  Boom.

But that’s not common.

Ever hear of a “Nike Net”?  That’s where the process includes the manual transfer of data (printing it out from one system, walking it from point A to B, then entering it into another system).  In the last decade, I have worked with more firms that [ex] have an ecommerce platform that’s connected to the accounting platform and warehouse/shipping platform by a “Nike Net”.

As a matter of fact, some didn’t connect the ecommerce platform with the CRM so sales and service worked off incomplete sales data.  In those instances, without a record of the online purchase in the CRM, the sales and service team had to contact accounting to see if they had a record of the online order.

So what’s my point?

Well, I have a couple.  First, great marketing requires fast, easy access to quality data in order to identify opportunities to improve performance.

Second, technology will do one of two things.  It can strengthen weak points in effective processes.  Or it can help deliver unique, valuable customer experiences in the digital world.  But to accomplish either of these goals, it needs a steady stream of accurate data because “Garbage in, garbage out” is just as true today as it was 30-years ago when I was an undergrad.

Third, this is NOT a marketing thing.  It’s a business thing.  It’s an organization thing.  You need to make data and information the core of your business.  You need to create a way that data is stored in places that are secure yet easy for the right people to access so they can quickly analyze it and distribute the findings to the right people so they can make decisions based on accurate information.

Put the right information in the hands of the right people and your organization will be able to consistently deliver a unique, valuable customer experience that attracts and retains profitable clients.  That drives profitable revenue growth.

So don’t leave marketing technology to marketing.  Don’t leave technology to IT.  Instead, make data and information core to the business and then use technology to strengthen effective processes or deliver valuable experiences to your audience in the digital world.

Just don’t think it’s a matter of buying the right tech or hiring the right person…it’s a lot of work that is well worth it.

You might like to read:

Views from the Front-lines of the data-analytics revolution, McKinsey & Company

Data-driven Marketing Delivers Enterprise-wide Value, Teradata Data-driven Marketing Survey 2013

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