Data data everywhere… Well you already know the reconfigured adage that we’ve been throwing up this problem. Just for the record, and because I’m a bit of a poetry geek, it is derived from one of the earliest lines in "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner":
"Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink."
When it comes to data, you can drink it, but you’re not quite sure it’s going to do you any good. According to a survey by Alteryx and AbsolutData of industry leaders last spring, the impediments to leveraging customer analytics involve the persistence of corporate silos, a general lack of expertise within the company, and the burden of simply managing the sea of data.
The most common challenge cited by these respondents (43%) was accessing data managed by other departments. These departments use multiple data sources, and executives complain that the data is often overlapping when each department pursues similar questions. Right behind the silo problem, however, is simply integrating the enormous amount of data that is already there, cited by 39% of respondents. At about the same level (38%) is the similar problem of integrating the disparate data types.
But at least as challenging as the technical and organizational hurdle is the people problem. Among those surveyed, 88% said that they had limited access to specialists with industry-leading skills, and about half admitted that they had limited ability to drive new analyses.
It's not that companies are not ambitious about using data and are not currently engaged in analytics. In fact, 82% of respondents said that they are using analytics today. It is being applied to a range of data sets that most companies appear to be collecting already. Among those asked, 69% said that they are collecting customer demographics, while 69% say that they maintain primary and research data of their own, and 61% have point-of-sale and transaction data to work with.
Unstructured data is still a challenge. For instance, only 49% say that they have customer interaction data, and 41% have social data. Curiously, less than a third maintain complaint data.
The focus of analytics right now is on customer acquisition, which 69% say they are engaged in pursuing through data. But 63% are also using analytics to enhance customer satisfaction, while 46% are using it to increase loyalty. Analytics clearly is moving ever deeper into the organization, as shown by the 62% who say that they are using analytics to improve product and service design. And on the operational side, 60% are using it to optimize marketing or channels.
The problem with this deep integration of analytics into all aspects of product, customer and channel strategy is that calculating ROI actually gets harder. About 38% of respondents just said outright that they don’t know or can’t measure the ROI of their analytics investments.
The survey involved 140 professionals in marketing, sales, research and analytics as well as IT. The industries covered included retail, ranking and financial, telecom, CPG and general services.