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  • Jason Lucey

Building a Winning Marketing Analytics Program: Beyond Tools and Technology

While data and analytics hold the key to competitive advantage and improved outcomes, many businesses struggle to translate potential into reality. Simply throwing technology at the problem rarely delivers. Instead, what's needed is a strategic framework built on three crucial pillars: 


  1. Technical Capabilities: Develop the skills, tools, and infrastructure to effectively collect, analyze, and store data.

  2. Smart Data Governance: Implement practices to ensure data quality, security, and accessibility across the organization.

  3. People Empowerment: Equip your team with the knowledge and skills to translate insights into actionable decisions and evidence-based strategy.


In this blog post, we'll unpack what each of these pillars entails, why they're crucial to a successful analytics program, and how you can strengthen them within your organization. By mastering these elements, you'll unlock the true power of data and analytics, propelling your business towards transformative results.

 

Building the Powerhouse: Your Analytics Capabilities

Capabilities are the technical foundations of an analytics program. They include the hardware, software, and platforms that enable data collection, processing, analysis, and visualization. Some of the key components of analytics capabilities are:


  • Understand Your Data Ecosystem: This is your unique mix of tools and technologies. This includes your analytics platform, cloud storage, visualization tools, third-party providers, and more.

  • Establish Owned Platforms: Consider developing internal platforms for specific needs, like custom dashboards or predictive models.

  • Layer-on Essential Services: Invest in services that handle the heavy lifting, like data warehousing, data pipeline management, and security.

  • Core Data Repositories: Design a reliable and secure way to store and access all your data, from structured to unstructured.

  • APIs & Connectors: Ensure data flows freely between your systems and platforms using robust APIs and connectors.

  • Scripting: Scripting skills are critical for smoothing out primary data collection and for the data transformations that will be needed. This includes a range of languages, such as JavaScript, Python, SQL, etc., and may depend on the tools you are using.


Remember, the ideal "capabilities" mix depends on your unique needs and goals. Don't get caught up in chasing the latest shiny tools - focus on building a solid foundation that can grow and adapt as your data analytics journey evolves.

 

Governing the Flow: Building Trustworthy Data with Marketing Analytics Governance

Governance is the management and oversight of an analytics program. It ensures that the data and analytics capabilities are aligned with the business objectives and comply with the quality, security, and ethical standards. Governance also coordinates the collaboration and communication among the different stakeholders and teams involved in the analytics process.

 

This isn't just about keeping the tech organized; it's about ensuring the data is high-quality and trustworthy. Marketing data often comes with baggage—inconsistent naming, varying tracking methods across teams...in a multi-engine environment, this can cause major problems for data trust and, ultimately, insights generation. Some of the key elements of analytics governance are:


  • Name a Data Governance Champion: Someone needs to own the governance effort and champion it throughout the organization. This includes enforcing compliance. A governance board can help carry the burden even better.

  • Identify Data Management Concerns: This is the process of defining, documenting, and maintaining the data quality, integrity, and availability throughout the data lifecycle, such as data collection, cleansing, transformation, and archiving. These can be common issues, or they may be specific to your organization.

  • Define Roles and Responsibilities: These are the clear and consistent definitions of the tasks, accountabilities, and authorities of the data and analytics professionals, such as data owners, data stewards, data analysts, data scientists, and data engineers.

  • Document Common Methodologies: These are the standardized and agreed-upon approaches and frameworks for conducting data and analytics projects, such as agile, waterfall, or CRISP-DM.

  • Process Requirements: These are the rules and guidelines for the execution and delivery of data and analytics solutions, such as approvals, validation, testing, documentation, and deployment.

  • Manage Data Access Requirements: These are the policies and procedures for granting and restricting the access and usage of data and analytics assets, such as data classification, data encryption, data masking, and data auditing. Tools like Active Directory can make group permissions easy to assign and manage.

  • Centralize and Socialize: Governance is nothing if everyone ignores it (or doesn’t even know it exists).  Make sure you establish an analytics knowledge hug where people can find answers and ask questions.


By building a strong governance framework, you ensure your analytics program can provide reliable insights that guide your marketing decisions with confidence.

 

Empowering the Crew: Unleashing the Power of Enablement

Enablement is the application and adoption of data and analytics in the business.  It's where data transforms from static numbers to actionable insights, driving real change across your organization. Empowerment involves making data and analytics accessible, understandable, and actionable for the end-users, such as decision-makers, managers, and employees. Enablement also requires continuous learning and improvement of the data and analytics skills and culture in the organization. Some of the key aspects of analytics enablement are:


  • Focus on Insights Generation and Opportunity Identification: This is the process of discovering and communicating the meaningful patterns, trends, and insights from data and analytics, as well as identifying the potential opportunities and actions to improve the business performance and outcomes.

  • Support Technical Analysis:  This is the process of conducting and validating the data and analytics techniques and models, such as descriptive, diagnostic, predictive, and prescriptive analytics, to answer the business questions and solve the business problems.

  • Develop Learning Paths: These are the structured and personalized plans and resources for developing and enhancing the data and analytics competencies and capabilities of the organization and its members, such as training, and certification. Coaching and mentoring are especially important for junior staff to learn from senior experts.

  • Utilize Findings in Planning and Strategy: This is the process of integrating and applying the data and analytics insights and recommendations into the business planning and strategy, such as goal setting, budgeting, forecasting, and scenario analysis.

  • Schedule Performance Management: Utilizing data to track progress, measure success, and continuously optimize your approach over time.

  • Encourage Team Coordination and Knowledge Sharing: Fostering collaboration between teams, breaking down data silos, and creating a culture of insights -- sharing and reusing the data and analytics assets, best practices, lessons learned, and use cases.


Empowerment is an ongoing journey, not a one-time destination. Upskilling and adapting to new technologies are essential. By investing in your people and fostering a data-driven culture, you can unlock the true power of your analytics program.

 

The Promise

Data and analytics can transform your business for the better, but only if you have the right capabilities, governance, and enablement in place. These three key features of an analytics program will help you collect, analyze, and use data effectively and efficiently, as well as foster a data-driven culture and mindset in your organization. As you improve your data and analytics maturity, you will see the benefits of having more integrated, comprehensive, and actionable insights, as well as higher performance and greater success.

 

This is the promise of a strong marketing analytics program, and it is within your reach. If you want to learn more about how to build and enhance your analytics capabilities, governance, and enablement, contact us today and let us help you achieve your data and analytics goals.

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