Data is such a huge part of a marketer’s toolkit – in fact it is fair to say it is the currency when it comes to acquiring customers. Loyalty programs exist to benefit the data pool, just as much as they exist for the customer, website data and analytics are getting deeper and deeper and with the growth of Facebook as a marketing acquisition tool, the demographic data is starting to become valuable too.

But it’s not about the data. There are industries in the world right now, sitting on mountains of data with absolutely no plan to make something useful out of them. So, what is this “currency” good for then?

  • Data gives marketers speed: The first thing you see as you begin any digital transformation in marketing is the speed afforded by automation. Clever segmentation and automation pathways make marketing “happen” with little or even no effort. In addition, these platforms provide dashboards and APIs to read the data and begin to make key decisions about content, successes, failures and ROI.
  • Data gives marketers visibility: We’re already seeing it almost everywhere we go – the innovation movement and the market are asking us to change our relationship with failure. To proceed with focus and determination, but unromantic about the execution, ready to learn and move on the successes and rethink the parts that didn’t work. Visibility of data is driving the charlatans out of the room and bringing marketing technologists into power as a valuable part of any organisation.
  • AI will give data even more power: Let’s face it, there’s a great deal of grunt work in marketing. But as this strict process-driven task work becomes easier for computers to understand, the solutions will become faster and cheaper. Artificial intelligence (AI) will begin with the execution of what we call “automation” today and will begin to move toward insights-driven decisions and toward machine learning.  Much like a forex trading platform, marketing can be tested, insights can be interpreted, campaigns adjusted – Ai will do this without the need of a single human. As this happens over and over again, the segmentations become more and more complex and AI is able to run personalised campaigns both deep and wide, simultaneously.
  • Machine learning will tip things on its head: Machine learning is an abstract concept to some. The idea that a computer can learn is easy to fathom, but hard to actually visualise until you realise the speed, depth and breadth of a computer’s processing capability. For example  in The Great A.I. Awakening The New York Times explains how Google used artificial intelligence to transform Google Translate. How is this relevant? Because Google brain and it’s “deep neural networks” is showing us just how powerful machine learning can be. So when it comes to marketing, as we move out of automation and into AI, as out data, metadata and real-time analytics give us more and more power, remember that there’s more around the corner. Computers with Long Short-Term memory, mimicking human’s ability to retain and process complex and often unrelated information and returning with new findings.

Here and now

While its fun to think about the future, it’s also easy to get stuck there and miss the call-out for what’s important to all of us today. Data will further enable a marketer’s ability to tell the right story, particularly with a better understanding of the customer’s journey in a B2B marketing strategy. It’s data that’s going to unlock my next market, and it’s data that’s going to keep my teams lean as markets grow and diversify.

Getting started today means your dashboards begin to mature as your insights do. Your automation is running pseudo-personalisation, your release frequency for content increases as you learn more about your customers and the conversations around CMO vs CTO happen now, not later.

All of this is about digital readiness. How ready is your business or workplace for the changes that are coming? And more importantly are you on the change curve somewhere? Or are you lagging behind?

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