A team, led by Robert Brosnan, reported on their recent survey of Customer Intelligence (CI) professionals about their job priorities. The survey showed that CI professionals continue to focus primarily on data integration, when their primary charter is to deliver insights. Just last week, we sat with an analytical leader from a leading publisher who experienced the same frustration! She said, "I have to spend 80% of my job getting the data ready for analytics instead of coming up with great new insights." Integrated customer data is critical to delivering insightful analyses, yet many respondents seem to continue to get stuck in the data integration process.
Since my company solves these types of problems for our clients, I was intrigued. While there certainly has been, and will continue to be, an explosion of channels producing more and different types of marketing data, there are tools and technologies to bring this data together between the online and offline worlds. So what’s the holdup?
The CI and analytic functions in many companies are located within channels or business units — internal politics can be the biggest culprit that inhibits the ability to deliver customer insights. If, for example, the Web Analytics team is located in, and "owns," the data generated in the online channel, it’s difficult for the marketing analytics or CI team located in another business unit to include that data and those insights in its efforts. The insights generated are less impactful.
Thinking about it in that way, I realized that we’ve experienced examples of this with some of our own larger customers. We’ve had plenty of projects impacted or slowed down when the data needed to complete an analysis was simply unavailable to our clients due to organizational silos. I always assume that these are isolated instances, but more and more I realize it’s a widespread problem that isn't going away.
Restricting customer analysis within a channel or business unit is very limiting with the emergence of multichannel customers. Forrester's report states that “Executives have not elevated CI to a strategic role” and goes on to say that “Most businesses have not matured beyond the level of functional or marketing intelligence.” In fact, the study reports that only 17% of respondents indicated that analytics is fully managed by a centralized team.
That bears repeating. Remember that this study was of Customer Intelligence professionals (in companies which have made the commitment to have this their job function), professionals whose top two responsibilities are “Developing high-value insights from customer data (66%), and “Marketing measurement and advance analytics initiatives like lifetime value of customer.” Yet in only 17% of the cases was the customer intelligence generated by a centralized team. As the report states, “When given access to only a portion of the picture, CI teams cannot deliver holistic customer insights.”
It’s not surprising to me that marketing-oriented analytics is frequently located in a channel or business unit structure — I’ve been in this industry for a long time and that’s typically the norm. What surprised me about the study results is that the issue still exists to that extent in companies with an established Customer Intelligence function.
If you’re a CI professional, I expect that you’re trying to find ways to get data across the organizational divide so you can deliver on the customer intelligence promise. Delivering real multichannel insights can really deliver that "aha moment" that can be transformative for organizations. Let's hope for a faster evolution to real Customer Intelligence!
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