Plugging the Operational Data Gap

Even in this multi-channel world, customers place highest value a fast, human response whenever there’s a problem. 

That’s one key finding in a new study just released by the CMO Council and SAP Hybris, “Context, Commerce and Customer: Best Practices to Exceed Expectations.” The report also found that a surprising number of respondents–17 percent of 170 senior marketing leaders surveyed–think that an integrated, cross-functional data eco-system was non-existent, going badly, or perhaps not even possible for their business.

The gap between implementing marketing technologies, and aligning them with other functions, is underlined by a failure to develop processes specific to managing the customer relationship. Some 21 percent of respondents said their “processes are generally cumbersome and can get stagnant, especially as the business and customer get more digital and data driven.”

Another disturbing indicator is that, while over 40 percent of respondents agree that new marketing technologies have “increased customer engagement by ramping up and accelerating the customer experience across all points of the customer’s journey,” only 16 percent conclude that the transformation has been “driving revenue growth and bottom line health.” One possible reason for this is the silo effect, with new platforms and processes remaining confined within the marketing department’s walls. A trivial one percent of respondents report alignment of technologies across all marketing and commerce processes; over 20 percent are in the weeds; most–over 50 percent–are engaged in a work-in-progress.

Other notable findings include:

  • Over 40 percent believe marketing technology investments are falling short in at least some areas (8 percent describe the results from investment as “underwhelming.”
  • Nevertheless, more than half agree that time spent managing the new technologies adds value to the organization.
  • About a quarter of respondents said that no more than 25 to 50 percent of data gathered was being transformed into real-time, actionable intelligence. Reasons include “too much data,” “data is too messy,” data trapped in silos, and no cross-organizational data/analytics strategy.

One point on which there does seem to be agreement: the customer is driving the data race. While “marketers are becoming aware that while they may be drifting between lanes, the customer has raced ahead in the pace car, constantly setting new expectations and eagerly seeking out experiences that cross industry lines (for example, the B2B customer that now expects a seamless, personalized experience similar to the one they experience through their favorite retailer) and raise the experience bar higher with every touchpoint.”

There seems to be no alternative but to press ahead with improvements in data utilization and cross-functional alignment if the market is demanding “always-on, always-accessible engagement across the entire customer journey.”  But there’s still a way to go.

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