Analytics is undergoing another phase of transformation. Even the most seasoned marketers are finding it hard to keep up with the changing role of data and analytics. Today, some might even say the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) might just be replacing the role of the data analyst.
However, innovative adaptive marketers are still finding new ways and opportunities to stay ahead of the game. Marketing spoke to David Sanderson, founder and CEO of Nugit, who shared with us how marketers can embrace analytics, and to work hand in hand with technology to get the most out of it.
Marketing: Analytics is such a big term today encompassing of so many evolving facets. How can marketers keep up?
Sanderson: The challenge is that while it is easy to buy-in to the power of data, it is much harder to realise its full potential because the world of data is currently defined by complexity. There’s a volume overload, fueled by over-technical solutions that propagate specialist ‘black-box’ approaches. This results in an overwhelming sense of opacity.
What marketers need to realise is that they have always been doing analytics. It’s just that up to now, they were usually doing it manually (all while the volume of data has been rapidly increasing and exceeding human capacity to process manually). Today’s new technologies are enabling companies to not only compile and group data together, but also highlight possible insights or conclusions. Technology has advanced at such an amazing pace and there is now an app to automate almost every tedious manual process.
These tools can now be used to combine analytics reporting across various functions in order to standardise reporting flows and provide holistic views of the key data flows within a company. The companies that have adopted these technologies early have incredible competitive advantages.
Marketing: Is there a big difference between expectation and reality – especially between marketers and management when it comes to analytics? How can we bridge the gap between expectations and reality?
Sanderson: Yes, the difference in expectations stems from firstly, the level of understanding of data tools and secondly, the data points needed to measure their specific business goals.
What I’ve personally found is that management often wants to know why things happened and the implications, while marketers are still stuck telling what happened, without any analysis as to why.
To bridge the gap, marketers need to keep pushing themselves more towards the why.
They will need to upgrade their skills, but it’s not going to happen overnight. It requires time and a curious mind. As mentioned earlier, thanks to technology, the time it takes today for reporting is vastly reduced as opposed to what it used to be when humans were data wrangling manually. This means that marketers can focus on higher value-adding analysis to get to the why, instead of tedious processes such as exporting and combining data.
Marketing: How can the APAC marketing industry stay competitive with the rest of the world on the analytics front?
Sanderson: Marketers in APAC are really good at getting hyper local. Given how different parts of Asia are from each other, this has made marketers here really good at segmentation and breaking down their audience.
What Asia lacks is scalability. In the US, a few percentage points can save millions, and they often have the budgets to support their analytics projects. We can’t invest as much in such projects, but the upside is that it keeps Asia lean.
Secondly, there is a substantial digital talent gap, particularly in what employers value versus what talent is available to them. Every industry is being disrupted by data and analytics – healthcare, logistics, finance, education, and more; the ones who remain relevant are those who are digitally ready.
This talent doesn’t exist in Asia and companies need to cultivate it. i.e spend money on your people. Send them on proper courses and not just conferences or give token gestures. Companies need to invest in capabilities, and set a budget and timelines against those targets. That’s the only way organisations will get good people who know their business.
Last but not least, a common challenge we see leaders facing is balancing cost-benefit trade-offs when adopting new technologies. As labour tends to be plentiful and more affordable than more developed economies, APAC leaders tend to scale through manual efforts instead of technology. This is missing the point that the velocity of data in modern companies is simply too fast for humans to process and use before it’s out-dated. A capability to handle this new world needs to be built on intelligent technology not larger rooms of analysts doing mundane tasks. It takes bold leaders to prioritise this strategic capability building over short term tactical solutions.
In Nugit, we believe that Asia has the potential to not just be competitive, but actually lead the way in using data for marketing. We want to support interesting use cases in the industry, help with content, education, and most importantly challenge the status quo.
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