APAC Marketers Shouldn't Regard Data As a Panacea

While data can drive campaign goals, marketers sometimes just need to rely on good intuition and judgement, tapping analytics instead to help them make better decisions.

They also should practise some restraint when deciding the types of tools to deploy, according to Elissa Fink, chief marketing officer of Tableau Software, which specialised in developing data visualisation and business intelligence tools.

“With all the possibilities technology enables us to do these days, some companies get so wrapped up in trying to make it so sophisticated and so detailed that they lose the forest for the trees”, Fink said in an interview with ExchangeWire. “You get overwhelmed by too many details and you end up getting wound up without getting anything done.”

The CMO said she constantly encouraged her team to get started with something basic and try things out, then add sophistication over time. “A major pitfall is assuming you have to go all the way to exploit technology to the full extent of what it can do. You’ll never get there, because it can get so confusing and sophisticated, and your data models won’t support it”, she said.

Elissa Fink, CMO, Tableau Software

The proliferation of multiple devices and platforms, including mobile and Internet of Things (IoT), also had resulted in many disparate data sources that could be tracked to build consumer profiles.

Fink pointed to industry discussions about a 360-view of the customer and where all data points could be linked and connected to the customer. This, however, was still proving a challenge today, she said, noting that most marketers would want to have different data for comparison against their own data models and help build up their own judgement.

“That’s the one really important thing about analytics right now, because it is such a confusing landscape”, she explained. “Analytics need to help the human be a better marketer by enhancing their intelligence, by giving them tools to make it faster for them to see patterns and absorb data, and making it easier for them to think.”

She said analytics tools should be quick, simple, provide interesting visuals, and recognise patterns through machine learning to make marketers smarter. Such capabilities were critical because marketers would need help identifying connections from the various data sources.

Fink stressed, though, that data should not be perceived to be the panacea. “People think data-driven marketing means they’re going to find answers to every question. That’s not necessarily true. Sometimes, marketers just need to have good intuition and judgement”, she said.

She noted that the data might not always be aligned with a company’s marketing strategy. For instance, most data measured and reflected people’s behaviour, while a marketer’s goal sometimes could be about changing that behaviour. “You need to know when to play into [the data], and when to play against that”, she said.

Pointing to growing interest in machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), she said such tools had been around for decades, with each iteration promising to “change the universe”, but never quite did because humans still needed to make sense of the output.

She noted that smart analytics and AI would prove valuable if they focused on enhancing, rather than replacing, human intellect and capabilities.

“The more it’s about making us smarter, faster, and better, and allowing people to make better decisions as opposed to taking away human judgement, that’s where the benefits are going to be”, Fink said.

She added that machine learning could help draw attention to things. For example, alerting marketers to a potential impact on brand safety and enabling them to ask more questions to figure out what was going on.

“That’s a great way for AI to enhance human intellect because we’re overwhelmed by data; so anything that helps filter and us focus is going to be a good thing”, she said.

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