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Failure to Communicate

Things that are obvious: One day you will die. You will have to pay taxes. Data will improve your marketing and your bottom-line results.

The problem, according to Teradata’s hot-off-the-presses 2013 Data-Driven Marketing Survey, which surveyed 2,200 marketers around the globe, isn’t that companies aren’t collecting data. It’s that they’re ignoring it.

This is insane. Can you imagine Captain Jean-Luc Picard ignoring the counsel of Data on the USS Enterprise?

But this happens rather frequently back on earth. And according to Wes Moore, director of digital marketing solutions at Teradata, this is largely about how a business’s marketing and technology departments are set up. Because while we’ve all heard the happy prediction from Gartner about CIOs and CMOs working increasingly in tandem, it’s abundantly clear, according to Teradata, that access to data is still difficult for marketers—and this creates a disconnect between data that is collected and data that is applied.

Moore points out that often, data is collected in ways that marketers can’t easily leverage it—by vendors storing information in cloud technology, or by an agency. Marketers might have access to it, but only after jumping through a few flaming hoops.

“The value it provides is certainly limited,” Moore says. “You get reports and guidance, but not details.”

There are certain data assets that are commonly collected and accessed: demographic data, customer service information, customer satisfaction scores, and hard metrics related to search, display ad click-throughs, email metrics, and web browsing patterns.

But where marketers are often blind is in behavioral data—the nature of the interactions that happen on digital channels. “They can see the data in a silo,” Moore says, “but they don’t see how it all relates or how those [different customer] journeys are brought together. You get the trailer but not the full movie.”

Part of this might be the way marketing and IT purchase technology. Alex Yoder, CEO of digital marketing analytics provider Webtrends, pointed out over tea that marketers tend to buy best-of-breed solutions, individual tools that help them satisfy certain business necessities (Moore adds that this buying philosophy also leads to a siloed view of data).

IT guys, on the other hand, buy whole suites for convenience.

So it’s ultimately not too much of a shock when Teradata’s report finds that 74% of marketers really don’t view marketing and IT as strategic partners. Only 56% of those surveyed “routinely” work with other departments and disciplines within the business, and 33% of those surveyed do so on an ad-hoc basis.

It really boils down to a failure to communicate. “They speak different languages and they need to learn to speak each other’s language,” Moore says. “And that’s the core driver.” Traditionally, marketers are a creative class, and data scientists are, well, data-driven—though Moore identifies a new school of marketers emerging who are beginning to embrace the quantitative elements of their disciplines.

Of course, the important thing to remember is that ideally IT and marketing should be collaborating. Marketers might want to control the data, but should they? The reason IT typically watches over it, Moore points out, is because of security and privacy considerations. “That in and of itself is important in the organization,” he says. “The last thing you need is PII data floating around on the Internet.” As a whole, business departments—not just marketers—can be a bit tunnel-visioned. IT services the entire business, not just marketing.

So what’s needed, more than anything, is a reconciliation such that IT can build a data infrastructure that provides marketers with what they want in the most useful format.

Indeed, lack of process, according to 42% of Teradata’s survey participants, is the top obstacle to creating this type of harmony. To this end, Moore emphasizes that marketers must first understand what their vision is. What do they actually need?

Then build projects that help them achieve this vision. Some goals, say a 360-degree view of the customer, might simply be aspirational from a resource standpoint. But if a company can break that down into bite-size steps, it can better evaluate resources and data assets to determine precisely what the company can and cannot do.

“Pick something that allows you to be very successful today,” Moore says. Small victories also drive internal advocates.

At a recent roadshow put on by a provider of customer experience management solutions, one of the vendor’s customers—a VP of customer and business intelligence from a large American telco—said that mistakes are inevitable: “You will not nail this out of the gate, because it’s so complex.”

But if you hit those small victories—building and accomplishing projects that make lives easier internally—the water cooler gossip inevitably brings more people on board. “Deliver that success and use it as a reminder and to help you,” Moore says. “This is what you’ve done and this is the journey. And continue to remind yourself, so as you go down that data strategy, you can leverage those successes along the way.”

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