Some four years ago major analyst firms began predicting that by 2017 chief marketing officers (CMOs) would be spending increased capital on ICT. As we enter 2016, we can already see this forecast ringing true, and the major reason behind this investment is clear. The value of data to marketing has become ever more apparent, and in order to leverage the advantages of data driven marketing, technology is an essential enabler, writes Gary Allemann, MD of Master Data Management.
As a simple example, more marketing efforts are being focussed on web advertising simply because the results are measurable. Impressions can be linked to a call to action, and the call to action to a sale.
The most significant challenge is the fact that more and more data is being generated that could potentially be useful to marketing activities, from traditional channels as well as social media and even machine and Internet of Things (IoT) data from objects like wearable technology. In addition, customer expectations around marketing have changed. Customers increasingly expect targeted, personalised experiences.
Marketing has thus become a far more complex exercise than simply producing generic mass campaigns – CMOs need to be able to deliver personalised interactions to larger audiences. This in turn requires that marketing is able to pull together information from multiple data sets in a timely and relevant manner. Without IT to provide this functionality, marketing will be unable to keep pace, as data now lies at the heart of achieving better marketing results.
Another challenge exacerbating the sheer volume of available data is the fact that information often exists in siloes, even in today’s organisation. These siloes are created not only by different technology stacks, but also by business processes and even by organisational behaviour. This makes accessing and integrating customer information across the organisation a difficult task, and one that is made all the more complex as new information channels are being added all the time. It is essential to take control of data by embracing the technology needed to create omni-channel customer interactions. Such interactions are key to driving revenue and increased customer loyalty, but require accurate data to execute effectively.
In our example from above, in order to link the ad spend to the final sale, the marketing team may need to bring together data from internal sources, such as the campaigns system, the CRM environment, web logs and even the call centre, and link these to external sources such as Google Analytics or facbook, depending on where ads are placed.  Bringing multiple complex data sets together can take months of IT planning and effort.
The modern marketing campaign needs to react quickly to changes in the environment, build on successes and adapt poorly performing campaigns.
The need for marketing to control its own destiny is what is driving the CMO’s investment in technology. Marketing can no longer afford to be completely dependent on the already stretched IT department to enable its marketing goals.
Marketing must take ownership of marketing data – to support both analytics and campaigns – and is becoming more involved in the technology decision making processes.
An effective data management strategy, supported by technology that the marketing team can manage themselves, is the key to better marketing results. Accessing, analysing and validating data helps to better understand customers, in turn assisting marketers to push the right message through the right channel to the right customer at the right time.