Commentary

Understanding How To Use Data Becomes Marketers' Most Important Skill

Some 72% of marketers consider data analysis to be the most important skill for their organization to acquire during the next two years, according to a report released Monday.

Data segmentation and modeling are also considered to be important marketing skills -- ranking higher than both Web development and graphic design within the enterprise space.

The results reveal that 65% of marketers now consider data management to be more vital than social media. About 31% consider it more important than Web development; 23%, graphics design; and 13%, search engine optimization.

The findings from the study -- Customer Data: The Monster Under the Bed?, released from BlueVenn -- analyzes responses from 200 U.K. and U.S. marketers. It reveals that marketers acknowledge that they need the skills to survive today’s marketing landscape.

BlueVenn’s research shows marketers are spending as much as 80% of their time analyzing data. This time is mostly spent ensuring that the data is optimized for analysis.

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Although marketers recognize the importance of data, 27% hand over the process of data analysis to the company's IT department, basically because they don't have the correct tools. In fact, the research shows that 51% of marketers believe that either they don’t have the right tools for data analysis or that the tools they have need to be improved.

Anthony Botibol, marketing director at BlueVenn, believes the marketing technology industry has neglected data. "It's not that marketers need to become data scientists," he says. "The technology companies need to step up and make sure marketers have the tools they need to run analytics without having to take data from one system and put it into another."

A focus on understanding customer data has become prevalent in large enterprises, where four out of five marketers -- or 80% -- consider data analysis to be a vital skill. They spend the majority of their time getting the data ready rather than actually using it, Botibol said.

Some marketers look at about 20 different data sources within their company, from point of sale to ecommerce to paid-search platforms such as Bing Ads and Google AdWords.

"There's too much time being spent analyzing the data and not using is," Botibol  said.

Despite all the talk of a gap in data skills, only 16% of marketers believe their knowledge of data needs to improve.

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