The following are five steps to begin the process of getting your organization more data friendly:
Admit the problem
As any good coach will tell you, the first step to solving any problem is to admit you have the problem. Stop wrinkling your nose at big data and embrace it. Yes, we know your skillset in this area is limited and it's not a comfort zone for you. But, instead of poo-pooing the issue, embrace it. You could be the catalyst for change and be remembered as the data hero.
Self-assessment via auditing
Start by getting the smartest folks in your organization together and try to figure out where the gaps are. Are your teams still working in data silos? Does everyone who touches the data understand the reports and use them to make decisions? How are you holding people accountable to bring data into the equation? How are your competitors using data to succeed?
Setting goals and prioritization
Proper project planning should be the easiest bullet point to tackle. Once you have your audit in hand, it should be very clear which are the short term tasks that can be small wins and which long term projects that will virtually change the game for your marketing organization. Set goals, milestones, and check-in points to keep on schedule. You don't have to go at it disruptively in full speed -- even a slow, gradual, and steady change will pay off in the years to come.
The Harvard Business Review article has some good advice for attracting data scientists from posting geek contests to hanging out online where these kinds of folks gather. You'll also need more training for everyone and new tools will probably be in order as well. It's important that the person who signs the checks is completely onboard with this strategy so that these projects will be funded properly. Chances are you won't get everything you ask for, but if you start laying the foundation now, it will be easier to push through these initiatives later.
Learn and adapt
You're going to make mistakes -- that's a given. You may hire a new data guy only to find out he has the personality of a moth and will never click with the team. You also may end up licensing some amazing technology to better help your team visualize the big data sets and realize a few months later that no one is adopting the tool. Don't get discouraged. This is a process. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. But they aren't. If you can move the needle even slightly for your company towards the data future, it will be worth it.
Times they are a changing…
It's a new era of marketing -- the era of data. Regardless if your data is big, bigger, or biggest, the marketing organizations that embrace this new world will find themselves with a distinct and powerful advantage over their competitors. For so long, marketing has chiefly been a two headed monster of media and creative. It would seem that data is finally taking its seat at the table -- it hasn't been invited, it's literally crashing the party.
As an industry, we've been discussing and pawing at these challenges for some time. Data has been given lip service in a way. No one denies that there's value there, but for most marketers who come from media or creative backgrounds, analytics tends to be more of an afterthought used post-campaign to measure things or to justify opinions already set.
Now, the paper trails that follow every consumer and transaction in the digital world will yield major returns for those that know how to best tap into it and have the courage to let the data lead versus follow. We'll need data scientists to not just answer the questions we need answering, but rather to think of the issues that non-geeks haven't even thought to examine. Many people have the skills to answer difficult questions, but it's the true visionaries that know which difficult questions to ask. You'll need people like this on your team to get you across the finish line.
Josh Dreller is senior director of client and industry solutions at Visual IQ.
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