Recently, I sat down with one of our newer clients, the customer intelligence director for a global hospitality brand, to find out more about the data challenges faced by his organization. In Part 1, we discussed the chief data challenges faced by his organization, and in Part 2 we discussed the value of data quality more generally.
Q: I’d like your sense of what’s next for the Future structure of the marketing organization.
A: I started saying this about five years ago: “Give it 10 to 20 years, and we won’t be talking about analytics anymore, we’ll just be talking about business.” I think that’s where we’re slowly going, and where we need to go — a world where intelligence drives business. The purpose of analytics is to know our customers better, so we can serve them better. And really, that should be everyone’s goal. We just use different tools in pursuit of that.
I see the business intelligence (analytics) organization being rolled into a larger thing called customer intelligence, and then up further into the CRM. We’re becoming the keepers of the customer experience. What does that mean in terms of how it rolls into the boardroom? I don’t know. Typically, organizations have looked at analytics as a support function. We’ve been supporting the product team, guiding development. We’ve been supporting the marketing team, guiding messaging and optimization. Analytics has been considered a kind of outsider to the organization.
I see it becoming more of a driver because we own the customer. We’re the ones seeing all aspects of the customer and the customer journey. My organization owns the web analytics pieces we’re talking about, which gets into web and marketing optimization, but we’re also the chief consumers of our CRM, for marketing and insights. We’re now seeing more insight into customer survey data. All the customer data is starting to flow through analytics and customer intelligence. My team is organizing around the idea that we see the customer better than anyone else, and we’re feeding the other teams data. But I think it will shift from feeding information to pushing for organization change in terms of how to better serve the customer.
Currently, we’re constantly pushing insights, and the business units use them when they want to prove a point, and ignore them the other 90% of the time. That is changing, to where analytics moves from being a decision support function to being a driver for change across the organization. Whether that involves a CMO, or a chief data officer, I don’t know. I think organizations will try different things, but I think that’s the general direction.
Q: How close is your organization to approaching that kind of horizon?
A: You can see the movement toward that shift now, but I think we’re still a decade or so away. I would say that my organization is an early adopter with these kinds of changes, and we’re not there yet. There are some companies in our industry that are leaders in terms of driving their business based on customer intelligence; we’re a leader, and there are some other leaders I’m aware of in terms of customer-centric intelligence and analytics. None of those, so far as I know, have moved to having a chief data officer. I think some early movers are heading in that direction. Once you see that happening, it usually takes three years for other early adopters to duplicate it, five to seven for it to become a trend, and ten for it become a new kind of standard.
Q: That’s helpful. We wish you luck, as you continue to blaze this path toward customer-centric business development!