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25 April 2014

Big data-driven marketing combined with an effective integrated marketing management strategy is vital for business today, says Patricia Holgate, principal consultant for Teradata at Bytes Universal Systems.

Marketers thrive on data. Without it, it's hard to make the judgment calls that keep their companies competitive and customers engaged.

But marketers – and specifically chief marketing officers (CMOs) tasked with leading corporate marketing teams – have a not-so-small problem when it comes to data: there's too much of it for them to manage using traditional techniques and technology.

We live in the age of big data. According to statistics from Gartner and IDC, the digital universe is doubling every two years, and will reach 40 000 exabytes (40 trillion gigabytes) by 2020. Today's corporates have so much data at their disposal, they invariably need new systems and solutions to manage it, says Patricia Holgate, Principal Consultant for Teradata at Bytes Universal Systems.

That's why smart CMOs are embracing one of the hottest emerging trends in the industry: big data-driven marketing.

It's easy to lose sight of the big picture, so to speak, but big data is essentially the flood of current, valid and valuable information customers generate every day through their interactions with their suppliers, creditors and – most importantly – their peers. There's so much of it because customers use so many different channels to communicate and share information.

Finding a reliable way to tap into that information and harness it into effective marketing intelligence is the ultimate goal of big data-driven marketing. Without it, CMOs can't expect to deliver the personalised, relevant, and timely interactions that become the foundations of a seamless, positive consumer relationship.

Online research suggests that 67% of consumers spend more when receiving recommendations from their friends. In other words, a successful big data-driven marketing strategy involves much more than customer data alone. Information on what your customers' influencers are buying is just as important. Extrapolated to include information on what influencers' influencers are buying, and the equation becomes exponentially more complex.

That's why advanced data analytics is an essential component of big data-driven marketing. In the past, CMOs relied on IT to provide the analytical systems and tools to derive meaningful marketing information for their teams, but that's no longer the case. Modern technology makes advanced analytics available to IT professionals, business analysts and marketers alike.

It's no coincidence that, according to Gartner, the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO by 2017. In a $27 billion market, that's a lot of budget. But to use it effectively, marketers need the tools and training to learn how to use their data systematically to create more meaningful customer interactions.

This is where an integrated marketing management (IMM) strategy becomes important. Coupled with big data-driven marketing, IMM programmes seek not only to integrate a strategic data analytics component into the marketing mix, but also to combine it with a holistic marketing programme that encompasses every aspect of the CMO's charter, from marketing operations to campaign management and digital messaging.

In a data-driven marketing world, the CMO is ultimately accountable for success. From managing digital disruption – brought about by an explosion in social media and smartphone networking – to driving a relevant customer experience by gaining insights from the mountains of digital data that drive the marketing machine, today's CMO is tasked with integrating traditional and digital channels while increasing accountability and proving a return on the marketing investment.

For CMOs around the world, big data-driven marketing combined with an effective IMM strategy is fast becoming the de facto approach for sustained success.

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