By now you have read enough predictions about 2013. I also have done my customary reading and, needless to say, paid special attention to predictions about marketing and digital marketing.
As I went through CMO.com’s “Digital Marketing In 2013: Predictions From 86 Industry Luminaries,” a question came to my mind: What is that one thing a CMO should get right in 2013? Not Top 10, not Top 5, not even Top 3. What should be the Top 1 priority for a CMO in 2013? There are many answers to this question; I would like to share my view in this article.
As I talk to senior marketing executives during my travels across Europe, many questions with the same underlying theme keep coming up. Here are a few examples:
- What do I do with this explosion of data that I have? Or better still: What do I do with big data?
- Predictive analytics–yes, that is exactly where we want to be! How are others going about doing this? (This question is usually followed up with the example of how retailer Target was able to predict a teenager’s pregnancy even before her father knew.)
- We want to become a data-driven organization, but it is proving very difficult. What can we do differently?
- Analytics is key for our business. How do I best use it?
- Our analytics team creates way too many reports. How can I focus them on generating insights that my team and business can act on?
- What are others doing in the field of analytics? How big should the analytics team be?
- Should I have a centralized analytics function, or should I create individual teams for each geo/business?
The common thread in all of these is the fact that companies are grappling with taking control of and generating business-relevant insights from their digital data. As data morphs into big data, and big data morphs into something more enormous, the size of this challenge will also grow. Having the right technology to address this is all but a given–it is a hygiene factor, as they say. Companies that have not invested in the right technology to address this challenge will need to do that sooner, not later.
However, technology is just one piece of the organizational foundation required to address this. Organizations that have successfully started to address this have moved from tackling point problems (such as analytics reporting, big data, predictive analytics) individually, and have taken a more holistic view by bringing together executive sponsorship, business evangelists, change agents, technologists, analysts, marketers, process experts, and business sponsors.
So, in 2013, in my opinion, the top thing that CMOs should focus on is taking control of their digital data holistically to form a bedrock for creating scalable and sustainable business-relevant insights. And then, in 2014 and onward, we can discuss how to best leverage the gold from this goldmine rather than discussing its size, shape, and structure.