Who should lead data-driven marketing initiatives?

While the marketing industry has been making the case for more data-driven strategies, one concern that comes up often is getting CEO buy-in for data-driven initiatives. Many have trouble justifying such moves, stumbling when it comes to the dreaded ROI question.

And the issue is real, particularly as many CEOs haven’t yet been convinced about the positives of data-driven strategies.

At the conference, CEO and founder of MHC Asia, Low Lee Yong, told marketers that insights from data-driven technology had put them in the perfect position to make a strong argument for CEOs to move in the direction of a data-driven strategy.

“You could be sitting on a gold mine of data, don’t wait for a directive to come from the top. You could be feeding insights to top management,” Low said.

CEOs, CIOs or CMOs: Who should take charge of the data revolution?

In a discussion at Marketing magazine’s Big Data 2014 Singapore conference, the issues faced in the CIO-CMO relationship were brought up.

Matthias de Ferrieres, regional director of Asia, and head of marketing and digital, general insurance, for Axa Asia, said he viewed IT as supplying services to marketers, and that marketers should supply solutions to the business.

Alvin Neo, chief marketing officer at Parkway Hospitals Singapore, said while CIO-CMO tensions exist, things largely hinge on how the CEO creates KPIs for each department.

“A big role is played in this tense situation by the CEO – it is about KPIs. If I as a CEO hold my CIO to traditional IT KPIs, then can I blame my CIO for not wanting to jeopardise his position by supporting marketing for some social media stunt?”

Low said: “The answer is obvious – it’s the CEO (who should drive it). If the CEO does not believe that data can give valuable insights, and does not know the latest technology, then you’re on an uphill task. In my company, I personally take charge of the data portion – I make sure that I sit in all the meetings.

“We do not allow the IT people to pull a fast one, and put in stumbling blocks in the name of security.”

MHC Asia is in the technology healthcare business, and works by helping firms make speedy medical claims from insurers. Low demonstrated how the use of data enabled it to weed out medical fraud, and help its clients by reducing absenteeism, etc.

“We’ve definitely seen it produce results for the business,” he said.

Namita Mediratta, director of global spreads and dressings, consumer and marketing insights, at Unilever, echoed the same sentiments.

“Big data is not just about marketing, but an overall organisational change,” she said.

She added that every firm would have “dark data”, that is, areas of under-utilised data, and in turn, opportunity.

Attributing ROI

On the topic of demonstrating ROI, Anil Srinivas, director of e-commerce at Dell, APJ, talked about why marketing attribution requires big data analysis.

Sales volume is attributed to many different factors: PR, brand promotions, the overall economy, pricing, seasonality, competition and more. Marketing attribution attempts to describe the customer journey.

Srinivas advised working insights from data into the attribution model and workflow so it’s used regularly.