Who do I believe when it comes to my data?

While adtech and martech providers may tell you otherwise, unfortunately, there isn’t a single source of truth when it comes to data. It is entirely contingent on the user, the business function they are in and the success metrics they are reporting towards.

For example, an FMCG brand manager with a new product in-market would want to see a lift in awareness and consideration to purchase. This may be reflected in reports for paid media, consumer surveys or research. However, what this data won’t reveal is absolute numbers for product purchase, repeat purchase or customer loyalty. To gain a truly holistic picture of how the product is tracking, multiple data inputs will be required such as supply chain and logistics management data. You may also need to include third-party information such as Nielsen shopper reports or even category analytics.

When you start to use data for your business, it can be like opening a can of worms. Opening the can is going to reveal a whole new world you never even knew existed. And while it is certainly best to control what you can by sticking to using the data you own and collect yourself, you’re likely to find there are multiple silos of information in that data too.

It would be a dream if you could go out and buy a piece of technology to take care of all of this but adtech and martech providers have developed a reputation for hiding behind buzzwords or over-selling their offerings towards the marketers’ business needs. And while some technology providers are very good at creating and marketing off-the-shelf solutions to solve marketer challenges, they may not be able to deliver on the more fundamental details such as how systems, platforms and tools integrate with each other.

It’s clear that we have reached what the Gartner Hype Cycle calls the “trough of disillusionment” with adtech and martech. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it’s pushing us all to become more discerning about the way we manage data for business needs.

Still, it’s little wonder many are struggling to grasp who to believe. In a lot of cases, this is leading to analysis paralysis.

Instead of trying to find a silver bullet, I’d encourage marketers to look within the organisation for the answers they seek.

The first step is to establish a true north and have a framework to approach it. Start by asking what your business objectives and top priorities are when it comes to data. This era of information crack is new to us all and without a clear sense of direction, you’re likely to end up going down various rabbit holes that detract from what you are trying to derive insights for.

Once you establish a direction, you need to have every relevant stakeholder within your organisation on board. Set co-opted objectives you can align behind. From there, you’ll need to take stock of the data assets available to your various functions, and align it to a commonly defined audience. Only then can you design a solution and map your audience’s decision journey, and then plumb your supply chain with a view to activate your data in-market.

Missions, visions, values and objectives will ultimately evolve but this approach remains a constant because when it comes to who you should believe about data, the absolute best bet is to get as educated as you can about what’s available to your business and what you can feasibly impact.

Then, in addition to trusting yourself, you’ll be able to focus on the partners and technologies that can genuinely help you to achieve your organisation’s data goals.

Daphne Goh is vice president, data strategy, APAC at Essence, a global data and measurement-driven agency, and part of GroupM.

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