The future of data analytics won’t be about bigger or smarter data. It will be about something much simpler – customer service. Data sets and the tools to analyze them are becoming easier to use, and everyone has a proprietary algorithm. What will ultimately distinguish the good from great will be the human touch.

In the past, the task of attribution modeling has been left to high-priced consultants. So why does it feel like there are new marketing analytics offerings all over the place? Three reasons: accessibility, demand and staff.

 

Accessibility: Democratization of data and tools

Traditionally, an attribution model would have cost millions and involved months of work. Today, the analytics software to build these models is everywhere. Open-source options such as “R” have robust communities building all sorts of add-ons, making it easy for analysts to build complex models. Microsoft has its Power Pivot and Power BI tools for Excel die-hards. We cannot forget about the big boys, like SAS, that are readily available to do even the most complex analysis.

No software in house? No problem with any number of the software-as-a service (SAAS) options out there. If you need a stronger visualization tool, then look no further than Tableau or Microstrategy. The availability of tools like these at reasonable prices (or even free) reduces the barrier of entry for the 900+ marketing technology vendors. They are starting to supply the traditional Business Intelligence world with stiff competition.

 

Demand: Greater than supply for low-cost services

With the tools easily accessible, virtually anyone can do it, fueling the capabilities of marketing technology firms offering these services at scale. What should concern the traditional Business Intelligence consulting firms is that for these companies, it isn’t a primary source of revenue. They can bundle the costs with the media services they are already offering. They don’t have to charge as much for this line item.

Combine that with all the press about the power that data analysis brings to marketing organizations, and you can see why there is a hunger for lower cost, nimble solutions. The new competitive edge comes from the organization’s behind-the-scenes staff using the tools. All these vendors need is for you to give them the rest of your data.

With all the new entrants into the market, what will be the defining factor? It won’t be the black box algorithm. It will be customer service.

 

Staff: Human translators make the difference

Your staff members, and their ability to explain the process and results, will simply be the biggest point of difference. It’s the human touch that matters.

You need to have solid folks doing the math; analysts who can ask the right questions of clients and be able to present the answers in a way that a client can take action.

Today however, the product is sold as a proprietary algorithm. In today's marketing analytics pitch environment, there is no shortage of people talking about their proprietary algorithm.

And this is where it will all start to change. Proprietary algorithms and dashboards are commodities in the new marketing intelligence environment. Clients are not asking for dashboards — they are asking for control panels.

Look at your staff. Who will you have at the control panel working with your clients? Who will you trust to not just let clients know what they should have known before, but let them know what they need to know today?

In the end, even marketing analytics is about selling. We sell our interpretation of the data. Our clients demand that the interpretation be actionable, not passive reporting. That’s a selling thing. That’s a human thing; not a math thing. And let’s be honest — if the recommendation doesn’t work, the human gets fired, not the algorithm.

Originally published Apr 7, 2014 9:00:31 AM, updated July 28 2017

Topics:

Data-Driven Marketing