IT Marketers: Help buyers focus on the Big Picture of their Big Data

LIsa Vitale marketing GuruGatepoint Research has published a new brief for marketers of big data solutions, based on insights from aggregated survey results of target buyers. The findings are clear; big data’s time is now. But the challenges are complex. McKinsey has written recently on the trouble organizations are having scaling their data-analytics efforts. Achieving the full potential value of big data capabilities has proven elusive; results from a May 2014 McKinsey survey, indicate that “only 18 percent of companies believe they have the skills necessary to gather and use insights effectively.”[i] Related survey results from Gatepoint Research reveal that the single greatest impediment organizations face in meeting increased needs for added and improved analytics is indeed staffing resources (63%) – well ahead of the secondary challenge, being the cost of hiring new skills (35%). McKinsey characterizes the challenge in integrating big data analytics as such:

“…there are a lot of capabilities that have to be built around the organizational design, the people, and the processes. Because the truth is, when you finish building your infrastructure, and you have big data and big analytics, you have to figure out who’s going to use it, how it’s going to be used, and what kind of analysts you are going to have.”[ii]

The journey from data noise to valuable insight is complex, but marketers of big data solutions can help buyers navigate the complexity of integrating such initiatives by communicating to them the value of defining their needs within the context of their organization’s ‘big picture.’

Make it manageable – define & serve the business needs

Marketers can serve their buyers by encouraging them to identify what, precisely, are the problems they are trying to solve and what types of data will inform those goals. Deloitte Principal Suzanne Kounkel stresses the importance of focusing on the end result in an effort to not be overwhelmed by an extreme data environment: “…organizations need to hone their focus on both the business questions they need answered, and the decisions they want to inform with analytics.”[iii] She warns that the danger of retaining all customer data – beyond being costly and risky – is that “data aggregation often becomes a bottleneck.”

Change mindsets with new tools and new culture

McKinsey suggests that the winning formula for unlocking the value of big data initiatives employs both the use of new tools designed to help with the challenges of achieving scale, coupled with a deliberate change-management strategy to overcome inherent biases against adoption, while catalyzing change. Marketers can serve their buyers by educating them on the value of shifting their organizational culture, along with their business processes. The ‘democratization’ of data analytics, through the use of user-friendly self-service tools, is helping the average business user get comfortable with leveraging data, while building their confidence to encourage the continued adoption and further proliferation of big data initiatives. Ultimately, buyers need to understand that driving behavioral change will be most successful by focusing on one area at a time. McKinsey suggests that scaling big data analytics across the organization is best achieved by first having business leaders “ask themselves which functions or departments would benefit most from analytics and deploy a combination of new targeted solutions, visualization tools, and change management and training in those few areas.”[iv]

Chicago Fish eye

Photo credit: Chris Smith/Out of Chicago / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Helping buyers understand and define their big data needs in the context of their organization’s ‘big picture,’ will better prepare them to more successfully integrate such initiatives. While selecting best-fit tools is certainly critical to success, no tool will adequately perform if the organization’s people don’t have both the skills necessary to leverage it and the proper culture to encourage its use.

To gain more insight on how marketers of big data solutions can add value to the buying journey of their prospects, read Gatepoint Research’s new whitepaper, based on aggregated survey findings gathered over this past year. BIG DATA: Big data is a top-of-the-agenda issue for business leaders

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