Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Do all CMOs have to be data geeks now?

Written by me in the The Economist Group today

Few would argue against data’s importance in marketing today. Data is essential to every marketing decision now, and the techniques used to transform that data into actionable market insight can make or break a company.

DataCMO Given this, some data-intensive companies now require their CMOs to have a background in data science—but will we get to a point where all CMOs and senior marketing leaders have to have a background in data science? Or will tools continue to emerge that will help marketing leaders better interact with big data and enable them to make strategic decisions?

As the Internet and sheer amount of available data expand, companies are rushing to take advantage of it—but they are finding themselves overwhelmed, and many marketing organizations are reacting by hiring data scientists. In fact, data scientists are in such high demand that a recent McKinsey study found that there would be a deficit of up to 190,000 data scientists in the U.S. alone by 2018.

Because so many marketing decisions are data-driven these days, having someone adept at finding relationships, identifying anomalies and making predictions based on data can be key to an effective go-to-market strategy.  CMOs absolutely need to understand how to interpret data. To quote a column by Computerworld Executive Editor Julia King, “Data science is all about predicting the future.”
The particular responsibility of choosing and driving strategy based on where the market is headed lies with the CMO. But if the CMO arms herself and her team with the right tools, she doesn’t need to be a data scientist—and she doesn’t have to fill her bench with data scientists, either.

Senior leaders will find more and more that cloud-based apps—like emerging personal business analytics and marketing automation solutions—will become their go-to tools to solve their big data overload problems. These solutions will allow the business user to make better real-time decisions, helping them to embrace not just analysis, but also synthesis of the data.

Solutions whose analytics are easily embeddable into existing platforms and apps, and which provide clear visualization and collaboration tools, will ultimately help leaders strategically grow their businesses without requiring a team of onsite data scientists.  By choosing the right solutions, CMOs can save themselves the headache of searching for a team of data scientists, but reap the same benefits quickly and economically.

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