Customer-focused teams are secretly daunted by demands of data

This involves making the most of the ever-growing volume of customer data available to build integrated, three-dimensional profiles of customers and to identify patterns and trends. Many firms turn to the roles closest to the customer to deliver this insight.

Recent research undertaken with PwC reveals that nearly two-thirds of European and just under half of North American mid-market firms believe their marketing teams have the best skills to extract insight from information, and around half (46 and 57 per cent respectively) say the same for their customer service and insight teams.

Yet conversations with marketing leaders reveal that the teams in question are far less confident about their ability to achieve this.

One study found that a third of executives believe that being able to use data analytics to extract predictive findings from big data is the top skill required of their marketing professionals. However, just under half admit their own team lacks this skill. Another study discovered that an overwhelming 82 per cent of marketing leaders feel unprepared to deal with the data explosion, and only 59 per cent say they have the skills to analyse and understand customer behaviour across all channels.

Despite this clearly recognised skills gap, only one in five marketing professionals is expected to receive formal training in data analysis this year.

In short, many firms could be passing data to teams that are ill-equipped to do it justice. Missing out on rich customer insight is just one of the risks. Our research [at Iron Mountain] found that marketing teams are increasingly given free access to sensitive and confidential customer information in order to extract intelligence, but are rarely held accountable for keeping it safe.

We discovered that less than one per cent of mid-market firms think teams such as marketing and customer insight should have a responsibility for information protection. Many (39 per cent) place this responsibility firmly at the door of the IT security manager.

This is all the more worrying when you consider the fact that marketing departments are often at the forefront of flexible working practices, allowing staff to work from home or while travelling – often without providing adequate guidance and support.

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