In the How Data is Changing the Role of Marketers article, I wholeheartedly agree with Benton’s assessment as data being a total disruptor to marketers everywhere and how intrinsically important it is to entire customer journey. I want to circle back on one of the points that Benton made in the article – namely around a marketer’s role in “integrating disparate data and making sense of it” as they have always done but now the shift to the “amount of data they have to integrate, the number of functions they have to work with, and the complexity associated with making sense of the data” all of which I agree with but I think Benton overlooked a really important point. Yes, having data in and of itself is great but it’s not enough. It’s fundamental to us marketers in terms of informing meaningful decision making and action. But that’s not withstanding its own unique set of challenges and I’m not talking about privacy considerations. Just because we are at this pivotal moment of acceleration that’s allowed for greater emphasis on measurement of data, doesn’t necessarily mean we have someone to manage it. That’s a big, missed opportunity right? You can have all the data in the world right at your fingertips… but if someone isn’t mining it on a recurring basis, what good is it?
I say this because poor data quality is a major pain point in my role, and I can’t imagine I’m alone. By the way, I know what you’re thinking – “Don’t you work with accountants? How can this be?” Have no fear, I’m not referring to the accuracy of your audited financial statements! Deep sigh. I’ll give you a perfect example. In my former role, a large part of my day to day was performing an engagement analysis of our target market against our open pipeline – and then a rabbit hole of slicing up by geography, industry, service line, etc. Starting from the top with open pipeline, our CRM system was incredibly dated and wasn’t user friendly. To enter (or update) a new opportunity into the system, it was a time consuming. People didn’t want to be bothered with it. They would submit as an exercise to “check the box” but didn’t maintain it. I’d be reporting on “open pipeline” activity that, in reality, had closed as loss/won months prior. That has a rippling effect on my analysis and therefore on our strategic decision making at the top.
Point being, this new data-driven economy is an incredibly exciting time for us marketers. If we get it right, the impact could be major. However, if we lack the discipline and rigor to continuously cleanse the data, we lose out on critical opportunities to make more informed strategic marketing decisions.
- Have you experienced similar challenges with poor data quality? If so, what best practices could you share in terms of overcoming?
- If not poor quality, what other challenges have you faced as it relates to data? Success stories?