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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.

"But that's not how finance works. Finance tags, structures and organizes data on the way in. Finance knows at a moment's notice where we are on anything. We've chosen to think about the kind of reports that we need at our fingertips on the way out, so we tag everything on the way in. We have instant visibility into what's going on."

Making the IT Function Relevant to Marketing
CIOs can help CMOs achieve that level of visibility if they're willing to change their approach, Zeszut says. IT may be worried about security and infinite flexibility, but marketing wants answers to its questions, ASAP.

"Start with the really critical business question that the client, the marketer, has to know the answer to," she says. "If you start there, it makes it super clear what data sources matter and which don't. Not only does it tell you which data matters, it also tells you how to pull that data in and how to structure it."

For instance, marketers spend much of their time talking about the marketing funnel, with awareness-generating activities at the top and purchase at the bottom. Different marketing activities target different portions of the funnel. A classic marketing question is: how much am I spending at the top of the funnel versus the bottom of the funnel, and is it the right allocation?

Top of the funnel activities include things like advertisements on television, billboards, radio and in magazines. That's data that's difficult for IT to access. More importantly, if there's nothing in the data warehouse labeled TOFU (top of the funnel), MOFU (middle of the funnel) or BOFU (bottom up the funnel), answering that question will be an analytics dead-end. Unless the data is appropriately tagged as it comes in, BI analysts are going to be stuck conducting difficult and extremely time-consuming data forensics.

"However, if you know you need that answer, there are ways to make sure you've got it at your fingertips," Zeszut says. "You could add a new field to your purchase order form so your team can tag expenses by primary intent in your funnel."

 

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