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3 lessons CMOs take away from IT's flawed approach to big data

Thor Olavsrud | Sept. 4, 2013
There's no question that data analytics are playing an increasingly important role for marketing departments, but many marketers aren't getting what they need from the CIO. If IT can't deliver, CIOs should expect CMOs to go around them.

big data

Just how that relationship will shake out depends on how CIOs approach the problem of big data and business intelligence (BI). Jennifer Zeszut, former CEO and co-founder of innovative social media monitoring specialist Scout Labs (acquired by Lithium Technologies in 2010), and current CEO and co-founder of Beckon, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering for gaining insight from marketing data, says most IT departments have a flawed approach to big data and BI that forces smart CMOs to seek alternatives.

"You keep giving me reports that in no way resemble what I think about my business, what I care about in my business," Zeszut says, speaking of IT from marketing's perspective. "Yes, you give me a million things, but I never look at them."

Zeszut says that she's been in countless meetings in which marketing has been enthusiastic about a new approach or offering until it becomes clear that IT will have to get involved.

"If something has to go through that bottleneck, then honestly, it's not worth doing," she says. "That's why there's a shadow IT organization growing up under marketing ops."

IT's 3 Flawed Approaches to Big Data and BI
Zeszut sums up IT's three flawed approaches to big data and BI as follows:

Those three approaches represent IT's instinctual response to a problem, Zeszut says: Build a massive infrastructure, vacuum up everything, start with what's easiest. But the information marketers need to gain better insights is often locked away in data that's difficult to pull, and they need access to it ASAP, not six months to a year or more down the road.

"For all of the above reasons, marketers who want to understand the business impact of their marketing can't just leave everything to IT or the analytics department and say, 'See what you can find in there,'" Zeszut says. "Are analysts going to serendipitously sift out key insights for optimizing your marketing? Not likely."

Instead, Zeszut says, marketers are learning that to benefit from big data, they must take control and become "the storytellers of their own success."

Marketing is hungry for data, she says. But unlike other business functions, its access to that data is hobbled.

"Think about if we stood for that on the finance side," she says. "Every time there's a purchase order or expense, please put all of your receipts in the slot of this warehouse door. Wow! We have all of the receipts in one place. Now if the CEO wants to know how much we spent on software, hold that thought. We're going to send someone in to sift through all the receipts and in six weeks we'll have an answer for you."

 

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