It is becoming almost too obvious to state that managers are able to gather more and better data that can improve their decision making. This is particularly true for marketing where hitherto unavailable insight into customer behaviour is now available for improving marketing intelligence and predicting customer response.
Marketing departments have all improved their data and analytic strategies in response. We see evidence of wide scale experimentation deploying data science, advanced analytical tools, to begin realising the benefits of the emerging data rich environment. However, moving from small experiments that prove the concept, to a business environment where the normal practice is evidence-based and made operational through marketing automation is a bigger challenge.
Some of the organisational issues that need to be addressed include where are the data scientists located, to whom do they report, at what level in the organisation is the transformation managed and the extent to which the introduction of advanced analytics is emergent or planned.
Where there is a specialist analytics team within the organisation, functions need to compete for the scarce resource from a small team of highly-qualified data scientists. This will likely create a bottleneck in the adaption of evidence-based decision making. More worryingly, in this model each function has outsourced its data analysis to experts who don’t have the function-specific expertise to provide the best interpretation in all situations. This makes it more difficult for customer-facing managers to bring their lifetime of experience to bear in assessing information they don’t fully understand.
For this information to really be useful to the marketing function, and ultimately to drive growth within the organisation, marketing managers will need an appreciation of the advanced analytics and algorithms that are making decisions on their behalf. Marketers will not become data scientists because of the specialist skills and training involved, the need for analytics outstrips the supply of data scientists. The resolution of this dilemma involves what Gartner called “the citizen data scientist”, a manager able to perform at a certain level, calling upon the next level of expertise when it is truly needed.
I call this the democratisation of analytics. In time, more intuitive software, better platforms on which to do data science and training will allow most managers to do sophisticated data analytics themselves and recognise where they need validation or support from those with more advanced, specialised training in statistics and computer science.
We urge marketing leaders to encourage their teams to step up and become competent and confident to conduct an ever increasing amount of analytics on their own. Fluency in a basic level of analytics for marketing leaders will also, crucially, let them bring their expertise to the fore in interpreting the data and making decisions based on it.
Managers encouraging and promoting broad engagement in analytics throughout the department will help build the kind of marketing department that can move into the future. Furthermore, in the boardroom, if marketing can confidently talk about analytics to colleagues in other departments, we could start to see the board relying on better measures of accountability and impact when it comes to the marketing function.
The digitisation of marketing is only going to accelerate, but without the creativity, leadership, and experience of seasoned marketers, data alone isn’t enough. Customer-facing managers must democratise the field to ensure that decision makers adopt advanced analytics widely.
Cranfield’s marketing executive programmes take experienced executives through the strategic management of marketing within your organisation. How you can ensure that as you transform digitally, being customer centric guides your policies and decisions. We explore the cycle of learning, responding, configuring solutions and implementation in a modern digitalised environment and the implications of creating a customer centric organisation.
Blog produced by: Professor Stan Maklan, Professor of Marketing and Technology and Programme Director of the Marketing Directors’, Marketing Strategy and Planning, and Customer Experience Strategy programmes at Cranfield School of Management.
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