Your titles may not represent it, but almost everyone in the marketing industry is now a data scientist of some kind. From media and account management all the way down to creative and project management, data permeates everything we do, and very few decisions are made without first looking at the numbers.
Ad tech companies, agencies and brands are leading the way. This topic was addressed head-on at an sfBIG (The SF/Bay Area Interactive Group) event last week. Christian Juhl of Razorfish stated he has seen a “huge increase” in the number of people in his agency with "data" in their titles, and almost everyone has data in their purview.
The growth of the ecosystem around the world of data, measurement, and attribution proves that Pandora’s box has been opened and marketers want to see the numbers. Even the role of the CMO has shifted, as more and more chief marketers are coming to realize the potential for Big Data and are creating positions in their organizations to harness the power of this valuable asset.
So how does this apply to you?
First off, you need to look at what your peers are doing with data and then look at how data is being used by people higher up in your organization. If you want to advance up the corporate ladder, you need to know that analytics skills are prime.
Next, get to know the landscape of the solutions that cans support your career track. If you are in finance, IT, sales or operations, you already have solutions that can help you succeed. These solutions are now also being offered in marketing. While all of these are still relatively new, you can get up to speed quickly and accumulate more knowledge than others in your peer set.
Imagine someone in sales who didn’t have any familiarity with SalesForce? He could be quickly surpassed by others in his company if he remains on the “outside” of that industry-standard tool. You don’t want to put yourself in that same boat!
Of course your role may be more creatively focused than analytical, in which case you can expect your mastery over data need only be minimal. That outlook will get you by in the short term -- but you need to keep pushing and find ways to integrate data into your understanding. I personally think you’ll be doomed in the long term if you don’t.
You can joke all you want that you got into design because you hated math, but math has always been an underlying factor in great art. Think about the symmetry of the human face and the mathematical formulas that were commonly used to depict the human body in Renaissance-era artwork.
This truth is becoming more self-evident now that we live in a digitally driven world. Whether you like it or not, your art is influenced by data -- and vice versa as well, since data only goes so far without the human insight and ability to craft art, and the storytelling required to unite the two aspects.
Since you’re reading this column, you’re likely to agree with me -- but if you don’t, then please let me know!