How to keep your research and data teams accountable

In an ideal world, research and data is something which is dealt with in an entirely objective and bias-free manner. However, marketers too are human; hence perspectives taken towards data can be subjective.

According to Shireesh Mishra, head of planning and marketing enablement, APAC marketing at PayPal, one way of avoiding potential conflict of interests is to take charge of key hypotheses, and always look towards proving and disproving theories. This was said during Marketing‘s recent Research Asia conference. When asked how brands can keep their research teams accountable in balanced insights, Mishra said that having the right process and tools should be the foundation when it comes to ensuring accountability in research and data.

“We need to get the process in place, this includes the operating rhythm. Put someone in charge of ensuring the right and optimal process is in place, and also ensure that there is a right level of bureaucracy,” Mishra explained.

He added that there also needs to be a balance between localisation and standardisation to understand the data. In some cases, mobilisation is required if the brand is operating in a market which converses in a local-specific language. In other cases, a standard solution across a region is sufficient.

“It is also always important to build that trust whenever we are starting a project and manage those expectations with the stakeholders. Its tough but its manageable,” Mishra said. This needs to be established before moving to the next level in enabling data-led decision making.

Definitely data has a lot of value, but we need to understand how to best leverage that data, how to do the right decision making and figure out what is relevant for us.

4 Gear data framework

“Process and tools” is merely the first “gear” of a “4 Gear framework” Mishra outlined when it comes to truly understanding how to be data-led when it comes to decision making.

The second “gear” is information, which Mishra explained, is more about connecting the dots. This is during a time where brands have “heaps” of data, but little knowledge of the context which comes with it. This makes the data useless, he added.

Marketers also need to take note of the flaw ‘averages’ and learn to look beyond the average number when it comes to data.

Meanwhile, the third “gear” is interpretation insights. When it comes to looking at research, brands need to acknowledge that each individual is unique and have a different point of view. This is especially so when it comes to interpreting the data.

“In an organisational setting we need to ensure that people understand what we are doing, why we are doing and more. There has to be effort made to get people on the same page,” Mishra explained.

Hence, brands need to be able to create meaningful dashboard to look at multiple story angles. This will allow them to drive comprehension, especially in understanding what to track and why it should be tracked. It also helps to establish where the brand stands and what is within its control.

Brands also need to be aware of the HIPPOs in their organisation, which refers to “highest paid person opinion”.  In doing so, brands should not think to always look towards the HIPPO. Instead, brands need to think about collaboration.

“Drive fact-based decisions and actions, ownership and accountability, as well as cross-functional collaboration,” Mishra explained.

PayPal also uses research and data to help achieve business objectives on an external level. Research and data has allowed the brand to go back to customers, understand their pain points and how to solve them. For example, it looks at how it can improve its process for the freelance market in Philippines, where a primary concern is the transfer payment process between PayPal to their bank accounts.

“We use research to understand our customers and the value crop in certain markets. We also have an active brand tracker which is analysed on a quarterly basis in top markets,” Mishra said. This, he added, allows the brand to understand brand sentiments, where it is trending and also how it is doing against its competitors.

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