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Harnessing Big Data Skills: Data Driven Marketing

An excerpt from the Bright Lights, Big Ideas book produced for CES 2013 by Publicis Groupe. Bryan Scanlon, MSLGROUP’s North America Technology Director contributed insights to data-driven marketing insights that are part of the book.

In a world soon awash in Big Data and opportunities to use it, one thing is clear: there are not enough people in today’s marketing organizations with the level of experience in using Big Data to make companies successful in the future. And many of these organizations do not have the right tools and processes needed to survive—much less thrive—under the coming tidal wave of information.

In the Big Data-driven world, marketing organizations need to infuse themselves with experts. Mathematicians, scientists, statisticians, software and hardware engineers. All will be important to companies looking to harvest and harness Big Data and turn it into useful, actionable information. It’s a page from the playbook of today’s fastest growing digital companies. Look at the hiring practices of Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter. Employees in those companies are different from those hired by traditional marketing and media companies.
They possess:

Tech-savvy leadership.
Not only are the most successful digital companies well-stocked with engineers, scientists and techcentric product managers, but technology is the primary skill set of their leaders and their workers. They drive the businesses, the products and the core strategies.

Hard science.
Many marketing-related companies, particularly in media, still rely on qualitative “social” science in much of their decision-making, not the kind of quantitative sciences needed to exploit Big Data. Yet, hard numbers are the new reality of the advertising and marketing industry. Marketers need cognitive scientists, statisticians, mathematicians and physicists.

In fast-growing digital, data-driven companies, diversity is a competitive advantage and a business imperative.

Companies like Amazon, Google and Apple have relatively flat organizational cultures, and their employees have no time or patience for the kind of long, escalator-like ride over decades to reach leadership positions that exist in many nondigital companies. They know what they want and they want it now.

In traditional marketing organizations, many folks are “bucketed” into roles and silos during early stages of their careers and find success through focus and unique expertise. Invariably, some of the strongest talents in emerging, digital and data-driven companies have degrees that span both science and arts, work better horizontally than vertically, and take pride in constantly changing gears in their careers.

However, hiring the best is only part of the equation. (And a very difficult piece at that. There is a limited pool of emerging talent with Big Data skills, and competition for the best is intense—much like the competition we’ve seen for computer scientists over the past 10-15 years. It’s a certainty that demand for data scientists will outstrip supply for years to come.)

Companies must also adjust, adapt and improve their internal processes and procedures to ensure they’re set up to capitalize on the information and insights created by these streams of Big Data.


Here are 5 Key Take-aways for Organizations:

To realize their full potential, organizations must be set up to respond to Big Data insights in real time.
Brands will need to adjust their marketing plans to immediately respond to consumers’ actions as they learn about them. Consumers have embraced social and other live-interaction opportunities with brands, and they fully expect brands to respond in-kind with immediate, personalized responses.

It will take considerable change for brands to begin to realize the full benefits of Big Data analytics.
But if those hurdles can be overcome, the benefits are clear and significant. Moving from a tactical/reporting position to a strategic and predictive approach will generate a measurable increase in marketing ROI.

The ability to collect and analyze massive amounts of data and the application of predictive science are transforming how marketers and agencies manage media.
These insights can help develop strategies and reach new potential target audiences with customized messaging, as well as aid measurement, optimization, attribution and accounting.

Marketing organizations will not be able to exploit Big Data without investing in new types of people, technology and processes.
It will be a requirement.

In the Big Data world, security and trust will become brand currency.
Strong security and privacy communication can actually strengthen customer loyalty. Trust is good business, and it is (and should be) desired by consumers and the agencies looking to protect them.

For more insights on data-driven marketing and three other categories – Connection Engine; Commerce+ and
Next Generation Storytelling, download:

During his nearly 20 year career, Bryan Scanlon has developed a track record of building visibility, valuation and brand equity for clients. After becoming a senior technology practice leader and GM of Schwartz’s San Francisco office in 2006, he was named president in 2009 and launched the agency’s digital practice in 2010. He is responsible for the agency’s strategic direction, sales, marketing, and client services. Follow him on Twitter: @bkscanlon

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