Businesses Lag In Data Use And Sharing, Harming Email

How many email marketers know what the social media team is doing at their company? Or the programmatic ad unit? Do they have full access to customer data?

These questions are at the heart of Data Versus Goliath, Customer Data Strategies to Disrupt the Disruptors, a new study by Forbes Insights.

Overall, it’s not a positive picture. Only 13% can be considered leaders — firms are making the most of their customer data. A larger percentage are laggards.

They may be because data is still siloed, or accessible only to some decision makers at those firms, Forbes speculates.  

In addition, only 34% have a single view of the customer aggregated from all of their systems and applications data, including email. And a paltry 14% have given employees full autonomy to act on data insights, although leaders are more likely to do so.

Finally, a minority of firms are fully prepared for GDPR.

These failings leave companies vulnerable to disruption by more digitally accomplished firms.



Of those polled, 51% perceive a high risk of technology-driven disruption. And 38% see a medium risk. Only 12% feel they are risk-free.

At the same time, 35% fear they face significant disruption, and 46% fear they will face medium disruption.

Slightly more than a third think of themselves as full-scale disruptors, although more feel they are at least somewhat so.

On the positive side, 45% now have customer data platforms (CDPs), and 33% are developing them. CDPs bring in customer data from a variety of source, including email, call center interactions, connected device data, product usage, sales data, mobile apps, websites and social media, and they facilitate greater personalization and measurement.

At the same time, companies are employing these strategies to gather customer data:

  • Data collection is built into our product: users automatically give it to us — 73%
  • Gamification strategy to encourage customer to share data — 68%
  • Creating new free products or services that include customers to provide data — 51%
  • Creating new paid products or services that induce customers to provide data — 49%
  • Purchasing or licensing third-party data — 49%
  • Accessing open sources or publicly available data — 43%
  • Acquiring companies that have the data — 43%
  • API integrations or data-sharing agreements with strategic partners—37%
  • API integrations or data-sharing agreements with digital platform companies—37%
  • API integrations or data-sharing agreements with our suppliers/vendors—34%

In general, the respondents share these attitudes: 

  • Our customer base is changing in terms of their expectations and the ways in which they engage with us — 65%
  • A customer data platform is helping drive loyalty and ROI in our organization — 44%
  • Our company’s marketing and sales tactics are completely prepared for GDPR — 40%
  • Disruptors have a competitive advantage of incumbents because they are more savvy with customer data — 31%

Forbes surveyed 400 executives across several segments.



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