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The Digital CMO/ General Management

Marketers Convene To Discuss Big Data


by Anoop Sahgal
Partner Marketing
Adobe Systems

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Last week Adobe hosted a small breakfast for marketing executives in San Francisco, moderated by editor-in-chief Tim Moran. (Adobe is's parent company.) We had a lively panel discussion with senior executives focusing on the quite-meaty topic of leveraging data in marketing decision-making and the organizational impact.  

Our panel comprised Christine Heckart, CMO of NetApp; Marlene Willamson, VP of marketing at Hitachi Global Storage Technologies; and Susan Neal, EVP of marketing and technology at The Men’s Wearhouse. In attendance were marketing executives representing B2B, travel and hospitality, telecom, and other industries who discussed the topics that were brought up at each of our tables.

My blog today is a highlight reel that captures some of the key takeaways:

>> Thought-provoking quotes about measurement and leveraging Big Data:

  • "This is the decade of the marketer."
  • "The funnel has changed."
  • “If you don't measure the ROI, you will always be the drunken sailor spending profits.”
  • “This new digital landscape is a Disneyland for marketers with all these channels.”
  • “What do we wish to know about the business that we don't know today? Tell me what I don’t know.”
  • “You don't leave people on cul-de-sacs. Follow the entire customer journey and measure it.”

>> What to do with all of the data:

  • Big Data can start at the inception of an idea, from how to better understand customers, to understanding the measurements, and all the way to taking action.
  • Market to your customers–they expect it. This is integrated marketing; map the buyer’s journey.

>> Technology is raising the creativity bar even higher to cut through the noise:

  • It’s an asset if you use it correctly.
  • Use less content but implement it more effectively. Then measure to prove its effectiveness to force a change within marketing.

>> The organization:

  • A Big Data team is not a team of analyzers–they are PhDs.
  • One interesting anecdote was how physicists have some of the best insights into big data. . .Physicists in a marketing organization!
  • Looking for talent that is both right- and left-brain is not easy.
  • Evolving existing staff to meet these new demands is a huge challenge.

>> The CMO and the CIO connection:

  • How do you bring together all of this data that’s sitting in various areas within the organization?
  • It’s not just a simple IT project anymore, but spans other business groups, with a lot of interest in the data at the executive level.
  • The CMO and CIO sit next to each other and attend meetings together regularly. Both are aligned and excited. 

>> Social:

  • Very hard in B2B and is a series of trial and error.
  • Social still seems to be more about engagement and top-of-the-funnel activity.
  • Trying to move to ROI.

>> Worries:

  • Building the right team with the right talent.
  • There is opportunity to directly impact revenue. Marketers must capitalize on taking control and driving revenue.
  • Making the right decision based on the data.

How’s that for some insight?

About Anoop Sahgal

Anoop Sahgal leads global marketing programs for Adobe's key agency and system integrator alliances. Sahgal has global experience in leadership roles that span marketing, product management, and business development in high technology, and has spent time time working in both the SI and agency worlds. Follow Sahgal on Twitter: @anoop_sahgal.