Sweeping Survey Reveals Gaps in Data-Driven Marketing Efforts

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The results of a massive global survey released this week offer some insight into the way companies are leveraging data science to bolster their marketing efforts and the extent to which persistent organizational disconnects continue to hamper those efforts.

Teradata polled more than 2,000 marketing executives around the world for its 2013 Data-Driven Marketing Survey and found that while there is a near universal push among middle-market and large firms to employ Big Data strategies to further marketing, many companies are still operating in the dark – stuck in the so-called “black box” – when it comes to effectively utilizing them.

As proof, nearly half of the respondents to Teradata’s survey said that data remains the most underutilized asset in their organization, and less than a fifth report having a single, integrated view of customer activity.

What’s the problem, you ask? Well, it’s not that companies aren’t collecting the right information – in fact they are collecting a lot of it, mainly involving demographics, customer service, customer satisfaction, and data regarding digital marketing interaction; but it turns out that only a fraction of it is being put to use.

The issue is two-fold: A silo mentality within and across departments that limits communication, and a lack of a concrete action plan for how analytics should be applied and to what end. According to the report: “Due to the data proliferation in today’s corporate environment, almost all large companies use some form of data-driven marketing. [However] to truly leverage a data-driven marketing approach, a company must have the processes in place that systematically operationalize the insights discovered from the ever- growing mess of data.”

Even at large firms, only a third of executives report having a “true data-driven marketing culture embedded into their standard marketing processes.” Thanks to poor collaboration across departments and an absence of well-defined processes, fewer than 10% of companies use the data they currently have access to in a systematic, strategic way, Teradata found. And two-thirds say that a silo mentality within their marketing departments obscures a cross-channel view of their campaigns.

Teradata is not the first to expose such gaps. An April report from executive search consultants Spencer Stuart found that while 99% of marketers have embraced Big Data, only 11% rate their companies’ data marketing efforts as “sophisticated,” while a third report having only a basic understanding of analytics processes.

Among other things the analysts blamed executives’ inability to apply the data they collect toward decision-making, and, not surprisingly, an insufficient talent pool.

The good news is that most large companies are well aware of the nature of their limitations and are ready to work diligently to close the gaps in their data marketing efforts. That’s also good news for those who specialize in creating platforms that help marketers draw insight from Big Data. That sound you hear? It’s opportunity knocking.

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