Mark Lindsay at Experian, looks at the top challenges for big business in this data-driven year, which incorporates research from the company’s 2017 Digital Marketer Report.
2017 is shaping up to be an interesting year for organisations looking to adapt to the changing landscape of consumer expectation, regulation and technology that is evolving so fast this year.
These aspects will impact all businesses, but definitely, and definitively, have a particular impact specifically on larger businesses.
Large enterprise organisations have their own issues which often stem from their sheer size and a legacy of processes and business decisions. While it’s clear that being a large company has its perks in terms of economies of scale, reach and ‘clout’, it does bring some specific challenges too: Challenges not faced by smaller organisations. Many of these challenges originate from a lack of flexibility and the need to deliver much higher volumes than smaller and more agile competitors and partners.
Enterprise-level marketers were 54% more likely to name facilitating alignment their top priority, compared to the overall survey population – Experian Global Data Management Research 2016.
When it comes to marketing, the challenges represented by data regulation, and the need for transparency alongside General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), pose significant pain points for large companies. They are challenges of a far different style and scope than those facing smaller businesses. The largest by far remains the issue of silos.
42% of C-level executives at enterprise companies rank overcoming internal silos a top priority, 59% of enterprise-level marketers work on marketing teams that are broken out by channel – Experian Global Data Management Research 2016.
In the 2016 Digital Marketer Report, Experian found that 37% of marketers work in teams that are broken out by channel. Which wouldn’t be bad – but when you look solely at marketers who work for enterprise organisations, that number jumps up to 59%.
Silos in an enterprise’s marketing approach are a huge barrier to being able to deliver seamless customer journeys. This is because modern marketing requires brands to communicate intelligently with their customers. Not as a multitude of different voices but as one single entity – with consistency and a memory of past interactions. Because of this, individual channels should not, cannot, be treated in isolation – and this is where silos become a serious concern. Consumers expect a cross-channel approach and brands that are riddled with organisational and channel silos are going to struggle to operate one.
The need to tackle transparency being driven by GDPR regulation brings the issue of silos straight to the fore. In order to put the customer first and ensure enterprises are not only operating in a legal manner, but are also putting the needs of those customers first (relevancy, seamless experience etc.), they need to have a consistent view across data sets and the customer relationship management applications.
In order to make the most of the insights gleaned from data, they need to be applicable across all of the organisation’s channels.
Data-driven decision making revolves around building audiences and deploying them across all the channels – doing that across teams responsible for individual channels is always going to be more challenging. Marketers need to be able to build audiences based on insights from across channels and then deploy them across channels. This is nowhere more important than in a big well-known brand – where retention, acquisition and brand image are so heavily reliant on the customer experience above all else.
With different data sets come different uses and repositories. It’s easy to remember a time when marketing was a function that wasn’t very tech savvy. The number of vendors (largely software companies) vying for marketers’ budgets has grown exponentially over the past few years as new technologies have grown to become absolutely core to the marketing function.
In large organisations this myriad of solutions adopted by marketing delivers an additional challenge where disparate technologies need to be integrated to deliver that seamless consistent experience for the customer. Again a solid data foundation can help – specifically a consistent and effective customer identification capability can ensure that all these technologies have accurate customer identity at their core.
As we look forward to the rest of 2017 – and beyond – big brands should emulate their smaller and more flexible cousins by making sure that good data use is at the heart of what they do. The right data applied well can bridge those internal silos and disparate technology environments – but only through a desire to put the consumer first, will this be achieved.
By Mark Lindsay
Director, Strategic Client Development and Consulting