We like calling data the "new gold". But it is only when gold is turned into jewellery that real value is created.
The 2017 Mary Meeker report is as always amazing, for its coverage and depth of research. What struck me about the report this time is how we are progressing beyond the mere availability of, fascination with and obvious uses of data.
Data is now used in highly personalised, creative, immediate, clever and engaging ways that build real brand value. This is not about commoditised value where we use basic technology to enable only simple skills and more effective consumer engagement.
The report really gets into the creative uses of data. How data can truly add competitive advantage to brands – not just more informed customer experiences, greater attribution, fewer user experience breakdowns or creating new insights into consumers.
The creative use of data is the real gap in the market, where traditional marketing thinking (which often over-emphasises creativity at the expense of market and customer insight), should merge with customer insight technology and digitally enabled customer experiences.
This capability creates a dilemma for both clients and agencies, at least in part because of how marketing and IT roles are fragmented and silo’d.
This means capability remains fragmented, instead of creating empowering engagement where the creative interpretation of data (which respectfully, many data analysts are not good at) and the creative expression of customer engagement across various touch points, remain silo’d – or at best, limited.
Historically, “creative people” did not like listening to customer insights people and, in turn, customer insights people criticised creative people for not listening to their insights. No amount of data will solve this problem, but processes like design thinking may assist. Wunderman uses their Collision process to enable this “connection” and amplification.
Hence, turning data into real gold is first and foremost an attitudinal issue.
While we talk about the capabilities of consumer insight – and indeed create better marketing as a result, we often do it in ways that dramatically underutilise new technology and insights.
We are still mesmerised by capability, not opportunity.
The real capability created by technology is so empowering that it can catapult brands into an era that is light years ahead of what marketing has done before. It may include redefining the user experience, but even more so, it may include creating an entirely new value proposition.
Yet, this can only happen if we leverage technology creatively. Today, all companies pay more-or-less the same for marketing technology. It is not the magnitude that matters; it is the attitude and application.
…turning data into real gold is first and foremost an attitudinal issue.
The way data is used will create an incremental competitive advantage.
New technology may make companies more efficient, effective and reduce wastage, but there are strategic limits to that. Then what? Business value is not created through similarity – it is created through advantageous capability. An advantageous capability is about leveraging similar resources better and more creatively.
While I understand so many companies still need to get the basics right, the end-advantage has to be to create brand experiences that leverage the deep capabilities of data and technology. To do that right, start thinking that way, today.
Until data is used to grow real insightful advantage, marketing technology will at most create “best-practice”. When everyone else has caught up, your investment may actually be an opportunity cost.
To really move the needle, we need to view data as a building block, similar to the way in which gold is merely a vehicle for product beneficiation.