Leaders Push for More Data Driven Culture: CMOs Better Keep Up

Author

Daniel Newman, Contributor

October 7, 2014

Data or intuition? That seems to be the question for many of our business leaders today who say they want more analysis of data, while still putting great trust in their intuition when making decisions. With Big Data finding its way into just about every marketing conversation, Chief Marketing Officers are forced to react to the trend for more analysis. However, many CMOs will tell you that despite the influx of available data, they prefer to trust their gut when deciding where their marketing priorities lie.

With all of this in mind, the overall message about the direction for marketing leaders appears to be clearer. Bottom line is that the greater awareness of valuable data is going to trigger marketing executives to take action. In fact, 8 out of 10 CMOs are expecting to rely more on data driven analysis and, therefore, predictive analytics are going to play a greater role as marketing executives try to keep up with the demands of their senior managers.

That’s the picture that emerges from a number of recent reports on the subject that I’ve been taking a look at over at Marketing Charts. Let’s take a look at them in chronological order:

  • 1 in 2 US Marketers “Trust Their Gut” – This report from Adobe, which was featured in March of this year, highlighted that while three-quarters of marketers agreed that capturing and analyzing data was the new reality, around half still tended to trust their instincts to guide their decisions. The majority, though, did see things changing with marketing undergoing something of a revolution towards data that they would need to embrace to succeed.
  • Senior Management Wants More Use of Analytics – May brought us another report, this time from MIT Sloan Management Review, which acknowledged a pressure from senior managers for a more analytical approach. Further evidence of a more traditional view came with two-thirds of professionals saying that their organization still relied heavily on management experience rather than data analysis. A move towards the use of predictive data was again highlighted though with many saying access to data was increasing and that their data analysis skills were improving.
  • Data-Driven Decision-Making Informed by Intuition – Step forward another month and we find evidence from APT that while the majority of business leaders are likely to describe their decision making process as “data-driven’, they demonstrate a low level of confidence in the data when it conflicts with their experience and intuition. In response to such a situation, 57% said that they would do some re-analysis of the data, 30% said they would collect more data and just 10% agreed that they would follow the data.
  • Business Decision-Makers Say Human Insights Should Precede Analytics – Last month saw yet another report on the subject, this time from FORTUNE Knowledge Group. This one appears to come down on the side of gut-feelings again, with the majority of decision makers saying that soft factors such as emotions, intuition and human factors play an important role in their thought process. A smaller, but still sizeable minority of 38% said that such factors should be ignored in favor of the pure data.
  • Spending on Analytics, Social and Content Growing – Up-to-date now with yet another study by Korn Ferry, which suggests that the drive for the use of data is winning the day with 80% of CMOs expecting to increase the use of predictive tools this year, some by more than 25%. Almost four in ten (39.1%) said that analytics where most likely to be used to measure the outcomes of creative programs, while a third said their most effective use of data has been in leveraging consumer data to support their intuitive theories. It looks from this that as predictive analysis skills improve, marketers may be able to combine an element of both data and intuition into decision-making.

One interesting footnote to this report is that spending on content and social media is also growing this year. This for me is an area where the use of data is vital; if the spending isn’t connected to and driven by data, then it’s just not going to work. Whatever their gut feeling may be, marketers need to bear that in mind.

The reports do paint a somewhat mixed picture, but the underlying trend is a move towards better use of data analysis and, as a great believer in knowing all about the numbers, that’s a move that I welcome. However, as marketers we must never forget that we are dealing with real people so that human, intuitive touch should never be lost, but instead used in conjunction with the data to produce an ever more personalized approach. It’s all about getting the balance right to get the best from both worlds.

What do you see happening? As a business leader or marketing executive, do you rely on the numbers or your gut? Or maybe you have found a way to combine the two effectively. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Image: Creative Commons 

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