If you’re like most organizations, you’ve recently wrapped up or are just putting the finishing touches on your 2015 planning.
Odds are good that your strategy for the coming year is going to depend on big data and analytics in marketing and many other company functions. And while there has never before been so much data available to us, odds are also good that you’re practically drowning in it.
Staying Afloat in the Big Data Sea
Today, formal internal governance with respect to data and analytics is not only a necessity when it comes to keeping your head above water; it’s a true competitive advantage as others struggle to deal with and leverage their data to make better decisions.
Establishing central data and analytics governance group within the organization can be an extremely effective way to define and enforce standards across marketing and the rest of the organization. It generates accountability to ensure that your data and analytics functions become a true asset that your organization actively uses to drive it forward.
“Today, formal internal governance with respect to data and analytics is not only a necessity when it comes to keeping your head above water; it’s a true competitive advantage…”
An extremely important aspect of a centralized data governance group is representation from various stakeholders across the organization. Even the word “analytics” means very different things across the different groups within your organization.
Web, marketing, customer, and finance teams all generate and use data in very different ways, and often these data sets can end up living in isolated silos. And that’s not to mention any third parties and agencies you’re working with.
No two governance groups are the same. When putting yours together, here are many of the functions you might want to end up at the table:
- Digital Marketing: This typically includes key stakeholders that manage digital channels like search, display, social, programmatic, email, video, and often those involved with a data management platform (DMP).
- Customer: This may include individuals from direct marketing, customer lifecycle management, customer loyalty, CRM, and consumer insights teams.
- Web/Apps: This can include representation from website/app analysis, project management, content, customer/user experience, e-commerce, and other functional areas..
- Business Intelligence: This often includes representatives from traditional business intelligence, ad-hoc analysis, shared analytics & data services, data modeling, and operations groups.
- Sales, Pricing & Promotions: This includes sales leadership functions as well as those responsible for price & promotion decisions.
- Strategic Planning: Perspective and guidance from organizational leadership with respect to strategic planning is often included to tie together initiatives across functional areas and support broader organizational goals.
- Finance: This will be made up of one or more representatives from those producing and consuming the organization’s financial data.
- Information Technology & Systems: This includes those responsible for the hardware and software required to support the larger data stack, but also extends beyond the “pipes” and includes acute knowledge of how business processes are integrated within those systems.
Investment and Payoff
For successful organizations, this is not intended to be a tactical group, but instead a strategic one. Members are ideally of a more senior level and will have quite a bit on their plates already. There’s often not much room for an additional large time commitment.
In practice, much of the work done by these subcommittees is simply the work that would need to be done anyway, but the benefit of the governance group’s oversight is that these tasks are now done in the context and with the perspective of the much larger organization.
We’ve seen many situations where one part of an organization makes a significant investment in a platform or technology at the same time a different part of the organization is investing in a direct competitor of that technology with no knowledge of the other group’s initiatives.
You’ve probably encountered situations where the same technology is purchased multiple times across the organization, doubling up on not only license and implementation fees, but also costs around maintenance, education, deployment and more. And this doesn’t only happen with technology selection: often many roles and best practices with respect to data & analytics are defined multiple times and in multiple different ways throughout an organization.
Standardizing Processes and Definitions
Many large organizations have found that disparate groups have been for years going down their own paths with respect to data & analytics. While the web group is building out profiles of logged-in users, the customer focused group has been working with structured CRM and third party data.
Beginning with a simple yet comprehensive data dictionary is a good first step, and from there, translating the organization’s business objectives into the key performance indicators (KPIs) along with the metrics, dimensions, segments, and sources of each of those data points becomes an easier task. establishing reporting needs with respect to the various formats, frequencies, and delivery mechanisms needed by different stakeholders is often a task that helps groups share and learn from one another.
Last, understanding what data is needed across the organization helps to identify overlaps and gaps with respect to technology and process. Consolidating on a single data visualization and reporting tool across the organization, for example, can save both time and costs, while sharing best practices and process improvements allow the entire organization to leverage one group’s success.
More on the benefits and execution of analytics governance and business intelligence recruiting. It’s a little long but worth the watch!
Video: Analytics & Digital Governance by ActiveStandards
Perhaps most importantly, a primary objective of a governance group is strategic planning. Understanding what’s possible, what’s realistic, and what’s relevant to the organization is key, and this can be translated into specific goals and a roadmap to achieving those goals over time. We’ve seen that many organizational governance groups create and maintain six, 12, and 18-month plans that define and steer the organization towards specific objectives.
In creating these plans, it’s important first to know what’s possible, and many organizations turn to external sources to present to the governance group or provide relevant research and recommendations. With a solid understanding of the data and analytics landscape, it’s then a matter of understanding where you are and establishing the end goal of where you want to be.
This may mean that the six month plan will include these dependencies, and the goal of using the customer data to target media moves to a 12 month horizon. And that may mean that other endeavors – maybe a customer LTV study, a new web analytics deployment, or an online to offline purchase intent modeling exercise – can sneak into that plan as well.
Next, it’s important to understand required budgets and resources. At the end of the day, access to time, money and people will be constrained and prioritized, so knowing whether you have in-house expertise or will need to hire up or engage third parties or how much you’ll need to invest in new technologies and their deployment is crucial.
Knowing how much you have to invest in business intelligence recruiting can help you put in place a realistic and achievable plan for the short, medium, and long term. Share on Twitter
If you’ve not yet put this in place, then you’ve still got some time to make sure governance is a part of your 2015 plan. Ensure your strategy for next year includes business intelligence recruiting to bring in talent that not only provides vital marketing insights but can also coordinate well with the rest of your analytics experts to ensure effective company-wide governance.
More on Big Data and Analytics Governance
Slideshow: 6 Tips for Governing Analytics
The focus here is on identifying the strategic business issues that can benefit from predictive analytics. More…
Building a Data-Driven Dynasty with Digital Governance
I define digital governance as the oversight of all the essential organizational factors that contribute to the success of a data-driven, digital-focused organization. More