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Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way

by Bill Gassman  |  February 6, 2013  |  Comments Off on Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way

At Gartner’s European Business Intelligence conference, held the first week of February, the gap between the IT led business intelligence groups and digital marketers couldn’t have been more clear.   The expected “big data” hype was visible all over the exhibit hall, but it was a stretch to see where any vendors were pitching solutions that would help the digital marketer succeed with analytics – or even help the BI group get involved with the task.  Digital marketing is not yet a hot topic among the BI crowd.

The user round-table that I moderated on building rapport between the BI and marketing teams was well attended, but the stories were unfortunately familiar.  One contributor lamented that marketers don’t follow the rules, and their requests are for flexible, dynamic and agile solutions.  They don’t have appreciation for what is done for them and ask for the impossible”, said another.  A third complained that, “marketers ignore security issues and have no patience”.

Well, these descriptions of marketers are accurate, but you may be having the same reaction I did; “Yeah, so what?  If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen!”.  Digital marketing involves demanding and dynamic use of technology and analytics and nobody should be surprised with the demands, the pace or the passion to get things done.

In defense of the BI organizations, they have challenges too.  Up to 90% of their time is consumed handling operational tasks to satisfy their many analytics consumers, such as keeping the data flowing, worrying about data quality, agonizing over the artistic value of reports and meeting deadlines.  But, no excuse is sufficient.  The BI organization doesn’t have a monopoly on analytics.  IT is but one supplier of analytics to a marketing organization.  Marketers have a job to do and source appropriately.

At the end of the session, we went around the table to see what people had learned.  Many realized for the first time that they were not alone in feeling inadequate to support their marketing organization.  Some were pleased to learn of successful cases where the BI organization introduced self-service tools, such as Tableau and Qlikview to the marketing team.  The best advice of the day seemed to be “focus on where you can be most valuable, and don’t try to do everything”.

While it is tough advice for a BI organization to hear, marketers should give them a choice to lead, follow or get out of the way.  A few BI teams are able to provide leadership, and examples from industries like the telecom world are stunning.  Many are able to provide value by following the lead of the marketing organization, who can often use qualified help, such as vendor selection, data integration or training on self-service tools.  For other BI teams, getting out of the way – at least for the most part – is the most valuable tactic.  It allows marketing to chart their analytics path and leaves the BI team free to work on other tasks where it can be more relevant.

Give your BI team a chance to help.  See if there is interest and capability.  If the BI organization won’t work with you, you may find a good analyst or two that wouldn’t mind switching teams.


Category: digital-analytics  digital-marketing  digital-marketing-programs  

Tags: digital-marketing  

Bill Gassman
Research Director
15 years at Gartner
35 years IT industry

Bill Gassman specializes in helping marketing leaders manage, measure and optimize their Web, mobile, social and search marketing programs. For more than 15 years, he has advised marketing teams on how to use technology ... Read Full Bio

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