Comprehensive data management forms the foundation of a successful and future-proof marketing strategy. As Fayez Mohamood, CEO and co-founder of martech company Bluecore, said: “We don’t combine data for the sake of combining data. We do it to drive results.”
Data management is a make-or-break subject for many organisations. Virtually every industry vertical is now littered with ‘digital native’ disruptor brands where data is intrinsic to their value proposition. Uber, Monzo, AirBnB, Babylon; no matter the vertical, the ability to leverage a wide array of data (from customer, to market, to operations) rapidly and accurately functions as a USP for each service. Machine learning’s advancement in the marketing and business intelligence spheres has hit its stride, with all market-leading tech providers developing extensive offerings that are driving value.
On the flip side, increasingly strict regulations in Europe and around the world impose punitive measures for failures to adopt policies and practices which make data transparent and available upon request. Major data breach fines in recent years, such as over $575m for Equifax in the US and $230m for British Airways in the EU, serve as stark warnings for the consequences of data management failures.
Data management is a make-or-break subject for many organisations.
Between the carrot and the stick, there are myriad reasons for businesses to focus on optimising data architecture and processes as a priority. But data has posed a significant challenge for a long time. In many organisations, as platforms and propositions have changed over time, data storage has developed in silos across disparate systems with little to no strategic alignment. Large traditional organisations may have on-premise CRM data architecture stretching back years or decades.
Addressing this is no mean feat – it can be incredibly difficult or even risky to undertake the major architectural change required to resolve a unified customer profile. Even where this can be achieved, gaining alignment within an organisation on what the correct approach to future data architecture should be is a further challenge. Balancing priorities to build a comprehensive yet flexible data strategy that can dynamically respond to changing conditions requires alignment between all functions.
Stretching back to the 1980s, digital management of data is no new upstart in the modern marketing world, with a long history of fuelling improved targeting capabilities for brands. Today’s platforms continue to place data at the heart of their functionality, and so the marketer benefits from broad choice and quality. Taking a positive perspective, regulation further reinforces consistency in these approaches. As such, the challenge in delivering robust data integration to activate business value lies in defining a clear data strategy that can evolve with the business and has buy-in across the organisation. All functions, from sales to operations and service, need to be fully aligned and integral to the process in order to achieve this.
Take a deeper dive into the impact of storage/collection, integration/enrichment and distribution of data in ‘relevant time’ on the activation of audiences to drive business value in Merkle’s thought leadership paper. See how we helped LNER with a revolutionised single customer view, providing its customers with a well-connected cross-channel journey and experience.
Nick Burns Laycock is marketing technology solutions director at Merkle.