30th October 2023

Don’t manage your data like you manage your budget

Curtis Sinclair, Head of Consulting, Mindshare WW

The term ‘digital transformation’ has been so misused, it’s tempting to reject it altogether. So, let’s be clear. What is it?

To many, it’s simply about transferring business functions like marketing from analogue to digital platforms. That definition discounts transformation, by ignoring the value digitization can bring. It also underestimates the structural and cultural adaptations required of businesses to realise the value-rich data delivers.

At Mindshare, we partner with clients to support them in progressively gaining value through data; recognising that true transformation needs businesses to re-engineer themselves for a new economy where data – rather than cash – is the critical currency. Implementing new technology is an important part of that process, but businesses must also change their processes and cultures as bytes begin to surpass dollars.

That’s a mammoth task: businesses are geared towards the management of money, where dividing budgets between departments and functions mitigates risk and creates efficiencies. 

The first step in transformation is realising that managing data well isn’t the same as managing cash. With data, unification - rather than division - is key. 

We worked with a major CPG business heavily invested in collecting and using data on numerous expensive platforms. They stored customer data in CRM; tracked media data in proprietary platforms; behavioural data in analytics; measured sales data in POS and lead generation platforms; and developed additional data within a combination of the above – or worse – in an altogether separate financial system. Everything was siloed, harming their ability to improve customer experiences. Those systems all had their own teams and gatekeepers, and no platform ‘talked’ to another.

The opportunity wasn’t with technology, but rather how it was being used. Data was being treated in the same way as capital. Departments ‘protected’ it from the rest of the organisation as tightly as their budgets. That fragmentation had worked for them when managing their money: the CPG in question is exceptionally efficient. But it led to data being collected, organised, and deployed for specific purposes without consideration of other contexts and opportunities.

We recognised that the fragmentation was a remnant of a culture focused solely on delivering value through the addition and subtraction of cash, no longer fit for a world where data can be combined, enriched, and utilised in many places at once to multiply value. What that meant for customer experiences, was inconsistent messaging, fewer sales, and less value. The technology they’d acquired helped bridge the gap. But recognition of data as a novel resource was the thing that allowed us to fix customer experiences, and realise value from something already sat in their organisation.

So, what can marketers do to accelerate their digital transformation? 

  1. Recognise that the value of data can be multiplied through unification.
  2. Know that new technology can help bridge a gap, but that it should be paired with new behaviours and processes to align people as well.
  3. Create a culture where data accessibility is a priority.
  4. Demonstrate the benefit of greater democratisation: find and celebrate collaboration which leads to data being used in new and powerful ways.
  5. The businesses which multiply the value of their data will win in the new economy. The change is accelerating, so address your management of data with measured urgency.  

To successfully transform, business cannot manage data in the same way as money. 

That sometimes means different technology but will always mean different behaviours.

Mindshare Global
    Mindshare Global