Why Your CMO Worries About Data Integration

Loraine Lawson
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Six Key Steps to Build a Successful Digital Business

Customer data integration currently is the top barrier to adopting digital marketing technologies, according to a recent survey of senior marketers at global companies.

Teradata, an analytics platform vendor, released “Enterprise Priorities in Digital Marketing” this week. It’s based on a global survey conducted by Econsultacy US, which queried 402 senior marketing officers about their plans for digital marketing.

I find the term “digital marketing” to be a bit vague, but for the survey, it was defined as “the strategy of connecting large amounts of online data with traditional offline data, rapidly analyzing it and gaining cross-channel insights about customers.” The goal is much simpler: Deliver personalized content and messages to customers wherever — or however — they’re online.

It’s not hard to figure out why companies value this approach, but the findings fill in the gap between common sense and theory:

“The largest marketing organizations in the world have concluded that enhancing customer relationships via multiple digital channels best supports sustainable growth and reliable retention. This focus on thoroughly understanding the customer through data, and acting on insights found in data to design interactions, is driving an unprecedented demand for technology.”

Specifically, 62 percent say improving customer satisfaction and service is the top reason they want to invest in digital technology. Fifty-nine percent cited improving customer retention.

Even more telling: Within five years, companies say 40 to 50 percent of their marketing budget will be devoted to digital investments. Right now, around 25 percent is devoted to digital technology.

CIOs and IT leaders probably won’t be surprised to learn that a major barrier is customer data integration and access.

“Marketers must align an array of capabilities to capture and manage customer data,” Teradata states in a synopsis of the report. “A key challenge is making technology and data work together at scale and across corporate functions.”

That shows when you look at the key criteria for new technology investments. Full integration with other technologies topped the list, with 49 percent citing that as a major criterion.

The survey actually broke down results between data and technology integration. Data integration outranks technology integration, with nearly 60 percent calling data integration either their top or highest priority. Only 16 percent said it was a low priority or not a priority.

Customer Data

Here’s something that may surprise you in this age of “self-serve” technology. Only 26 percent specifically cited “easy to use by marketing without IT involvement.”

I hope that that means that marketing now appreciates the need for IT’s involvement in projects that require enterprise data. You may recall that in July, Teradata released another survey in which 74 percent of marketing officers said marketing and IT are not strategic partners in their companies. When that report came out, the director of applications communication strategy for Teradata Applications suggested that silos in marketing are a major part of the disconnect.

Even though some small businesses are embracing digital marketing, “Enterprise Priorities in Digital Marketing” focused on large companies with more than $500 million in revenue. Fifty-six percent reported revenues over $3 billion. The respondents also cut across countries and industries, although the focus was on customer-facing businesses such as automotive, consumer goods, consumer technology, retail and travel/hospitality.

An excellent press release summarizes the report, but if your organization is interested in digital marketing, read the full 31-page report. It’s available for free, with basic user information, and it’s packed with further insight and recommendations for moving forward.

Loraine Lawson is a veteran technology reporter and blogger. She currently writes the Integration blog for IT Business Edge, which covers all aspects of integration technology, including data governance and best practices. She has also covered IT/Business Alignment and IT Security for IT Business Edge. Before becoming a freelance writer, Lawson worked at TechRepublic as a site editor and writer, covering mobile, IT management, IT security and other technology trends. Previously, she was a webmaster at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and a newspaper journalist. Follow Lawson at Google+ and on Twitter.

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