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Drowning in Data? Swap Your Life Preserver for a Surfboard

Posted on  4 May 10  by 

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MarkDavenport_300dpieters are awash in data.  Digital, social and (increasingly) mobile marketing are spinning off data streams faster than we can humanly manage.  Analysis-paralysis ensues, and for some of us, data drowning shortly thereafter.

Few marketing organizations today have the analytical chops and creativity to squeeze gamebreaking insight from these increasingly rich data streams (see this prior post on coping with information richness).   Most marketing leaders will settle for a life preserver—they’ll outsource analytics to vendors or shunt it off to an analytics team buried inside of market research.

By contrast, sage marketing leaders will build surfboards to ride the data waves.  How?

I’d recommend taking a look at Analytics at Work: Smarter Decisions, Better Results by Thomas Davenport, Jeanne Harris and Robert Morison.  The book purports to be a practical guide for boosting the role and value that analytics can play inside of large enterprises.

And in this the book succeeds.  For marketers with limited time, here are the punchiest portions.

The authors have put together a superb enterprise level maturity model, running across five stages of maturity and five elements of enterprise analytics.  Yes, there’s even a clever acronym–DELTA:

  • Data—not just any data, you need accessible, high quality data
  • Enterprise—well, more precisely, an enterprise orientation
  • Leaders—analytical leadership
  • Targets—strategic targets (meaning: apply analytics in strategic areas)
  • Analysts—for the analytics grunts doing the heavy lifting

If you do nothing else, check out the attached excerpt (reprinted by permission of Harvard Business Press.  Excerpted from Analytics at Work: Smarter Decisions, Better Results by Thomas Davenport, Jeanne Harris, and Robert Morison.  Copyright 2010.  All rights reserved), which captures the key transition points across the model elements.  Assess your marketing team against the maturity model to pinpoint the spots that are inhibiting further progression.  The important insight here is that organizations should take a balanced approach to advancing analytics across these five areas.  Getting too far ahead in one area will waste resources.

For most marketing organizations, the best chapter will be the one on Targets.  The authors’ advice is spot on for marketers with limited resources (i.e., all of us)—focus analytics efforts to advance the firm’s distinctive capabilities.  Don’t just apply analytics to that which can be analyzed.

There are a few other gems worth calling out here:

  • Fun factoid: 40% of major decisions are based not on facts, but on the managers’ gut
  • Thinking about marketing org structure? The five pages (p. 104-109) on organizing analysts are well-reasoned, and worth reading for the logic that should underpin org decisions for other specialty marketing capabilities (e.g., shopper marketing, event marketing)
  • The Hotels.com example may be worth emulating for many marketers—it describes how an analytics leader came into an organization, formed a tiger team, and radically improved the performance of a website in short order (p. 142)

Word to the brave: despite the authors’ best efforts, this is dry stuff.  Dry, but critical for marketing leaders looking to help their teams thrive in an age of social mobility (mobile social-ity?).  In fact, it’s probably like crafting your own surfboard—precise cuts, fits and starts, lots of elbow grease.  But the ride once you get up on that board…sublime.

Comments from the Network (1)

  1. Wide Angle » Three Innovation Paths for Your Loyalty Program
    on June 1, 2010
    Respond

    [...] 2% to over 20%.  If this approach sounds data intensive to you, it should.  Because it is.  More here on boosting your organization’s analytics [...]

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