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IT - Helping the business deliver marketing through efficient customer analytics, at scale

How can the CIO deliver analytics to help marketing drive sales?

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Achieving relevance at scale — where the most pertinent content reaches the most promising customers at the moments of greatest influence across multiple channels — does not necessarily require more campaigns to appeal to each segment. It means putting analytics to work, confirming each experience is relevant to each target. That demands rethinking conventional wisdom that governs data management, media buying, measurement and everything in between.

So how can the CIO deliver analytics to help marketing drive sales? Achieving relevance at scale calls for a radical rethinking of how IT should handle data management.

Data sharing

Companies need to change their data sharing practices. That’s been true for some time now. But with the dawn of the digital age, this truism has become a C-level agenda item. Today, data is located in isolated pockets within different departments and efforts to coordinate it are still ad hoc. Example: marketers access data from the customer relationship management (CRM) system to study purchase trends, and another system that contains their media planning. These two systems, set up to capture, stage, and store customer data and other media data, are separate from one another and entirely different from the system that the finance department creates when using the same data sets to calculate, say, customer retention costs and media costs. The outcome: companies are rapidly creating patchwork quilts of data repositories leading to inefficiency and complexity that is unsustainable.

Achieving relevance at scale calls for a radical rethinking of how IT should handle data management. Gone are the days of big investments in data warehouses that hold masses of data, most of which fail to shine light on consumer behaviour. Now companies are turning toward solutions that enable better decisions by driving the most relevant data — from both digital and traditional sources — across organisations. So only information that has a predictive power — where have consumers been and why and what is their intent — will be trafficked. And more and more of this so-called “audience management data” is migrating to the cloud so, that it’s accessible real-time instead of siloed in a data warehouse.

Integration

Integrated marketing has been the mantra of most companies for decades now. The digital age adds yet another stream of data to assess in terms of judging the contribution of a multitude of levers — from mass mailing to online promotion to print advertising. Despite the drive for integration, most marketing organisations are comprised of silos, all with their own measurement techniques for understanding return on investment. This is where the IT organisation, with a view of all this data, can step in.

Teams responsible for digital are sometimes under the purview of the CMO, but more often than not, can also be aligned to other functional areas within the organisation. When meeting with the CMO, each group presents and defends their own investments — likely resulting in no one group possessing a holistic, integrated view. Since digital efforts are often reporting to structures outside marketing, the challenge of gaining a clear picture of impact becomes much more difficult.

So this isn’t good for marketing, and the duplication of effort is not good for the IT department either.

Smart companies are those that are creating true integration — using the same measurement standards, reporting structures and underlying architecture, feeding them into one holistic view that represents the real value gained through integrated efforts.

The result? Smooth running and simplified IT infrastructure in the IT department, leaving more budget free to innovate. In the marketing department, less fragmented campaigns, transparency of return on marketing investment, improved marketing planning for the future, and a more precisely relevant customer experience.

Beyond the conventional

Creating the best, most relevant experience at every customer touch point does not necessitate more ads or more channels and costs, but it does require a re-thinking of traditional IT and marketing operating modes that need reinventing to deliver the full promise of analytics. Those companies willing to push past the conventional will obtain the remarkable: relevance at scale and a competitive advantage.


By Michael Svilar, Executive Director Marketing Analytics, Accenture Interactive and
Natalie Kouzeleas, Customer Acquisition and retention lead Accenture Analytics, Accenture

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