You Won’t Believe How Data Silos Are Killing Your Business

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More than 80% of marketers say that data silos within marketing obscure a seamless view of campaigns and customers. That’s just one department within an organization suffering at the hand of data silos. Data silos negatively affect everybody, from IT to sales.

A data silo is a repository under the control of a particular division or department. In a data silo, data is isolated from the remainder of the organization. Silos are often found in large organizations, although they can occur in small or medium sized organizations as well. Each department needs to use their own data to meet their own goals and responsibilities. This means that data often doesn’t get shared with others in the organization. Data silos occur accidentally (or through outdated processes), a result of different departments using various information systems that while meeting the departmental needs trap information. Thus, the trapped information is kept away from other parts of the organization.

You spend so much time, effort and resources ensuring that your organization has great data. If you have all your data in a single readily accessible location you can do so much with it. Great data allows you to:

  • Improve efficiency and success in customer acquisition
  • Improve your capacity to make informed decision
  • Streamline processes
  • Increase productivity

Having access to high-quality data allows your business to increase revenue by making better decisions due to the insight provided from analyzing the data. Having yet-to-be analyzed data, while seemingly innocent, can have negative consequences for the organization, both today and in the future.

Issues Today

The fact that data cannot freely move to where it’s most needed forces people to duplicate the data, mostly through imports and exports. This leads to manual data manipulation by employees who need to move the data to another system. Then all of a sudden, we are stuck with duplicate data that has been manipulated by hand in some systems while remaining easily accessible in its original form elsewhere. Any time you start changing or cleaning up the data before moving it to another system, you are asking for trouble. Errors and wasted time are often a consequence.

By not properly handling and analyzing the data that your organization collects, you are leaving room for mistakes to be made and for opportunities to be missed. Often times there will be waste in multiple departments because data is not shared between them. These mistakes and missed opportunities will arise, either because the decision-maker does not have the data available to them, or the decision-makers do have the data, but due to an error during manual manipulation of the data, it is inaccurate.

Companies continue to utilize a wider variety of services, both internal and third-party, for different aspects of their business. The average small-business is now using 14.3 different systems. We are seeing more segmentation of data within these silos, with less interaction between them. This results in poor communication between departments, systems, and processes, leading to unproductivity and difficulty meeting both your clients’ needs and company’s business goals.

Issues Tomorrow

In the future, as machine learning and other predictive technologies fully infiltrate your industry, you will be left behind if you have not yet dealt with the issue of data being trapped within silos. In order to be fully effective, any artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning programs must have access to the entirety of your firm’s unmanipulated data. The AI or machine learning program needs to analyze the data for any relationships between categories and cannot do that if the data is not in one comprehensive database.

Low-end machine learning solutions will soon be able to make better conclusions about relationships in your data than you will. You need to make an investment to consolidate your information into one system before it’s too late. If you don’t, you are missing out on valuable insights that can benefit your business. Your information management system needs to meet the individual goals of each department as well as the organization as a whole.

By having a restricted flow of data organizations cannot possibly analyze all available (and already collected) data to draw broad, overarching conclusions about potential strengths, weaknesses, opportunities or threats. This restriction defeats the whole purpose of collecting the data in the first place, which is to get a holistic view of an organization by looking for relationships within the data.

So, what can you do about data silos?

To avoid having information trapped in data silos, you need to preemptively develop a plan and solution. There are several options you have to ensure your data can be easily moved. A content management system (CMS) will help collect and share information within your organization. Other solutions include marketing automation software, an integration platform, or a data lake.

Marketing Automation Software

Marketing automation software is defined by Hubspot as:

“Platforms and technologies designed for marketing departments and organizations to more effectively market on multiple channels online (such as email, social media, websites, etc.) and automate repetitive tasks.”

Integration Platform

  • An integration platform is a platform that allows an organization to integrate different applications and services into one solution.
  • While similar to an enterprise resource planning system (ERP), or a CMS, an integration platform is more generic, not designed for any specific purpose.
  • This allows the system to be more flexible, having a wider variety of features when integrating programs.

Data Lake

  • A data lake occurs when data is moved from separate silos into one system. This can be done using a variety of platforms or programs, such as a CMS or an integration platform.
  • While very flexible, these lakes are hard to govern, making them less useful than the above solutions.
  • Data lakes should only be created in absence of a CMS/ERP as a last case scenario.

An organization must ensure all departments are on the same page. The solution should have enough complexity for it to allow every department to accomplish their goals without massively changing their workflows. Data should not be “owned” by a department, it should be shared in an unaltered form with other departments.

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Existing data silos are preventing you from knowing your customer and limiting your ability to make informed decisions. There are many ways to avoid data silos, each solution unique to your business needs. Whichever method you use is of less importance than your main goal: eliminating silos so data can flow freely through your organization.

Do you notice issues with the flow of data through your organization? Do you think a CMS could potentially solve your data silo issues? Let us know what you think over on Twitter @VeridayHQ!

Why Your Marketing Technology Isn’t Impacting the Bottom Line

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This post was authored by Christine Reyes originally appeared here on Liferay.com

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What’s the Number One Priority for Marketers Today?

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? The number one priority for marketers today is to lead the company in finding new revenue and business opportunities.

The majority of business leaders would say they agree, according to a recent survey of CMOs from the CMO Council and Deloitte. Nearly 70% of those surveyed stated that they expect marketing’s primary role to be driving growth. This means that, in addition to attracting new customers and managing the brand story, CMOs are now tasked with opening new markets and optimizing the customer experience in ways that directly help the bottom line.

Given the explosion of MarTech products over the past few years, it’s fair to say that most CMOs see these technology stacks as a key part of their new roles. If CMOs can identify the best technology for their context and use it to constantly optimize customer experiences, they can find opportunities to improve customer service, make marketing processes more efficient, glean new insight from analytics, and ultimately use all of this as a foundation for strategies that contribute to new business growth.

Most CMOs Aren’t Taking Full Advantage of Their MarTech Stack

Unfortunately, when it comes to executing this vision for marketing technology, many companies are left disappointed. Even with the implementation of new products, brands aren’t seeing the impact they expect from MarTech. Other research has shown, for example, that technology is only marginally improving marketing performance at most companies. Even more concerning, as of 2015, only 9% of marketers believe that they are fully utilizing their MarTech stacks.

The insight from the CMO Council’s report suggests that much of this disconnect is due to the CMO’s struggle to translate their new role as business drivers into their daily work. Here is how CMOs say they currently spend their time:

  • Reviewing and approving marketing plans, budgets and campaigns (45%)
  • Defining and shaping the brand (44%)
  • Executing campaigns to attract customers (42%)
  • Evolving the brand narrative (37%)

Based on this list, it seems like CMOs are still focused on being brand ambassadors and managing campaigns, rather than optimizing the customer experience.

Part of the reason could be the normal momentum of their roles. Traditionally, marketing has focused on the promises it makes to customers early on in the sales funnel. This is reflected in the technology investments most CMOs make, such as campaign tracking and reporting software. What they need instead is marketing technology that improves customer experience, produces revenue and optimizes business solutions.

CMOs Need to Start Using MarTech to Impact the Entire Customer Journey

It seems like MarTech has impressive ROI around areas that have traditionally been part of marketing’s role (such as CRO), but isn’t necessarily impacting the bottom line in new ways, like business leaders expect.

With 63% of marketers today using some kind of journey mapping, we know that most CMOs have a customer journey map already created. Connecting marketing technology to different points in the journey can help CMOs identify opportunities for improvement.

One great example of this comes from Deborah Wahl, the CMO at McDonald’s. She staffed her team with 200 tech specialists and used the digital insights they gathered to assess pain points in the customer journey specifically for millennials. They found that millennials disliked that the breakfast menu ended at 10:30am and advised switching to an all-day menu. After the change, 78% of millennials said they visited McDonald’s at least once a month, which is the highest percentage McDonald’s has seen from this group in three years. This is the kind of impact CMOs can have when they use technology to improve performance, especially at moments in the journey that have typically been outside of marketing’s scope.

This change in scope is the difference between customer experience optimization and campaign optimization. While campaign optimization focuses on individual marketing plans in order to bring in new customers, customer experience optimization tracks and evaluates the performance of every single customer interaction. Those who excel at the latter spend their time tracking the performance of each channel, measuring customer satisfaction at each touchpoint, and pulling data from later purchase and post-purchase stages.

Customer experience optimization is what CMOs need to start using their MarTech stacks for, ideally with the help of a smart analytics team that understands how to uncover meaningful, actionable data. This will have a higher impact on the bottom line than campaigns, and it will uncover gaps in the customer journey that CMOs are in the best position to see.

CMOs Have More Influence Than Ever

In the CMO Council’s report, 27% of respondents said that the CMO is the primary chief revenue driver, trumping the CEO at 22%. This means that CMOs now have opportunities to act as trusted members of executive management and influence the decisions that make or break customer experience, provided they find ways to step out of the comfort zone of business-as-usual.

It’s time for CMOs to shift focus away from pre-sale and discovery interactions, where marketing has been traditionally focused. If CMOs want to impact growth and revenue, they need to look at the full customer lifecycle and become experts at using technology to achieve their business goals.

You don’t know your customer……because you haven’t asked

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It is likely that your business already has a lot of data; about your customers, prospects and processes. In 2017, data is everywhere. We have so much of it that sometimes we don’t know what to do with it. The problem is that most of the data we collect just isn’t very good (or we don’t know if it’s any good), or we just aren’t sure how to use it effectively. Most customer data that we collect can’t be analyzed, not because we don’t want to, but because it is trapped in a silo or is otherwise inaccessible.

So, what should you know about your customer?

  • Location data
  • Demographic data
  • Interests
  • Pain points
  • Conversion rates
  • Click-through rates
  • Purchase history
  • Content analytics
  • Customer wealth
  • Path-to-conversion
  • Customer revenue
  • Customer lifetime value
  • Churn rate
  • and more

These metrics are a given. Everyone should have them (but, many do not). There are dozens (if not hundreds) of metrics you could follow to help better understand your customer. Knowing your customers and having a good grasp of data related to your customers will inevitably help you to attract new customers. Therefore, it is important to pick which data points are the most important for your business, customers and prospects.

The data above can come from many different sources and systems. Some of them are easy to access, track and analyze. Others, such as customer loyalty, are not so easy. How do you know what your customer is doing if you aren’t looking at their purchase history, browsing habits and what information they are consuming? How do you know if they are loyal to you if you aren’t aware of their social activity? If they visit your website or if people from their networks are entering your sales channel, you won’t know it. These are all important facets of customer loyalty that you should keep track of. But, many businesses either don’t have this data, or can’t track it easily.

Bottom line: your customers are your biggest assets and it’s imperative to know if they are happy.  After all, it costs 5 times as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one.

Are Your Customers Happy?

Just because a customer has given you money, does not mean they are loyal. Just because a customer hasn’t churned does not mean that they are completely satisfied, or trust you. They very well be searching for a better option. It is very likely that if a customer is unhappy, they’re just going to leave without any signals. Only 1 out of 26 unhappy customers complain; the rest will just leave your business and never come back. Without proper data, you won’t know what motivated that particular customer to leave. If you don’t know why they left, how can you improve your processes so it doesn’t happen again?

Collect The Data

It would be so much easier, if all the data you needed to make decisions could be curated into one system. That way, the analytics you need are right at your fingertips in a single screen. Wouldn’t it be easier if your platform collected everything from content analytics to customer profiles?  

A content management system (CMS) is a software application or set of related programs that are used to create and manage digital content. Many businesses use these systems to collect data (related to content) from various sources and organize it in a single, centralized source. If you have a content management system (CMS), then you don’t need to collect and verify the accuracy of the data, only to be forced to re-enter that data in another system manually. You can see all the information in one place, and know that it is accurate. 

Ask Questions

There are a million questions that you can easily get the answer to (or at least a rough idea of), simply by asking. You can get any information about the reader, simply by enticing them to provide you with that information. You can offer them exclusive content, a chance to win a prize, or some other incentive if they fill out a form on your website.  

The more you know about your customers, the better you can target your message to their wants, needs, interests and challenges. To get the data you need, you must ask. The business case for having all this data is quite obvious: the more you know about your customer, about their pain points, their desires, and interests, the more effective your marketing plan will be. People respond to messaging that hits them on a personal level. If you know who that customer is (on a personal level), you can craft specific messages that will speak to them. Personalized marketing is and has always been effective.  It works because everyone looks for that personal attention. 

Thanks to technology, such as a Content Management System (CMS), personalization and data is more accessible than ever.  CMSs come in all shapes and sizes, can be as simple as a single WordPress page (with the appropriate plugins), or as complex as the application requires (and that a developer can manage).

Content Management System

Investing in a CMS will help ensure you have the data available in order to determine your customers’ buyer journey, how your customers are feeling, what their pain points are and how people are finding you.

If you don’t have a CMS in place, it’s not too late. While you may be behind the pack, you aren’t out of the race. Data science has advanced leaps and bounds over the last few years. Tools have been developed to better sort through data and there are baseline metrics for every industry. By using a CMS to collect data from your customers, you will be able to begin to make up for lost time. 

Once you have the relevant data you can really get started, using data to shape your thinking and drive results. You can use that data for any purpose you wish, shaping and tweaking campaigns to better fit your customer and prospects.

Not Alone

Even marketers at larger companies struggle with analyzing data. Over 60% of CMOs admit that they aren’t utilizing available data to its full potential. Only 0.5% of total data collected is being analyzed at all. You’re not alone. Everyone needs to work on using technology to its full potential, especially when it comes to using the data that is right in front of you.

How to Use Data

An example of a larger company struggling to collect, analyze, and fully utilize their data is Bridgepoint Health, before they implemented a Liferay solution. Their solution involved the creation of an internal data portal. The hospital needed a way to integrate disparate systems containing their own data. The seamless integration of key data sources and applications and the simplified, secured, and rapid access to that data, were key to engineering the right solution.

While their solution is a little different from yours, the core principal is the same. You just need a system that will both allow you to collect data AND analyze it in one easy to access, centralized place. Creating a solution to collect and analyze data is at the heart of Liferay’s value proposition. 

Bridgepoints solution led to improved productivity and optimized workflows through efficient access to data. Time spent switching between systems (a hallmark of homegrown CMS solutions) was drastically reduced, while productivity rose.

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Sometimes you just need to figure out a content and data management strategy. If this describes you then please contact us, reach out to us on Twitter @VeridayHQ or check out our blog posts about…

Benefits of Digital Experience Platforms , Digital Transformation and, Omni-Channel Marketing.

Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and what it means for Advertising

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Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are arguably some of the next big technological advancements that will lead to a whole field of innovations never thought possible. What I’m trying to say is that with Virtual Reality, you’re essentially in a virtual world – something that has been pre-recorded (or programmed). You look around in real life using the VR headset and the virtual world’s view will change according to where you look; there are even added aspects of immersion in some VR such as body tracking and sounds. On the other hand, AR puts the technology or animation right in your field of vision. It takes inputs or visual queues from the real world, usually through a camera, and overlays some sort of graphic in that spot when you see it through a screen.

One of the biggest AR phenomena occurred just earlier this year – Pokémon Go. It took geo-data from your device and overlaid it on the Google Maps technologies to determine your location. The AR part occurs when the user “finds” a Pokémon on the map. This allowed the application to take the input from the camera, select a part of the visual input, and then it overlaid a 3D model of the Pokémon on it. Though, the next step isn’t just seeing a 3D model of a monster through a phone screen, but something being overlaid directly in your field of vision through some type of lens. Just imagine wearing glasses that convert your table, like the one that Tony Stark, Iron Man, uses, with other hardware. It could even take in your physical input and change the graphics around. This type of technology is being developed as we speak; Microsoft’s HoloLens would like to develop AR with a human input.

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As for Virtual Reality, there have been quite a few companies tackling the hardware aspect for VR.  VR hardware requires more power and hardware to achieve more than just a “looking around” feature. A few of the biggest are Facebook’s Oculus, HTC’s Vive, and Sony’s PlayStation VR. Each of these are fairly expensive and also require additional hardware to run which limits the reach for this technology. Though, with the rising curiosity from consumers in VR from consumers, there will be definite improvement in price and availability. In a recent study of 8000 people, 24% said they will likely use or purchase VR in the next year. Another 20% said they don’t plan to try it, but expressed increased interest after learning more about the basics.

 These gadgets are technological innovations, but what will they do for advertising?

Well, they make advertising a lot more engaging and interactive; it can be an experience instead of just a standard advertisement. Below are some of the current ways AR and VR are changing advertising, as well as some predictions as to how they will affect advertising:

Augmented Reality is quite prevalent now with the recent surge of the Pokémon Go app. Although, advertising using the AR technology is still in its infancy. The Pokémon Go application is a great AR game, but it does not have advertising directly in the AR portion of the game. With that in mind, for the next few paragraphs, I’ll be focusing primarily on advertising that uses the core of Augmented Reality technology.

The technology that exists today for AR overlays an animation over the camera input. The spots where the animation appears is selected if there is a certain picture or pattern. For example, if there is an application on The Nintendo 3DS console where it can recognize certain cards on camera and overlay a 3D model on it.

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The animation automatically appears on and moves with that picture or pattern; moving the camera to point away from that picture and pattern causes the animation to disappear as well.

As for how it could change advertising, Snapchat recently patented a technology that can determine what you’re taking a picture of – or more generally, what the camera is pointed at. This could be a huge advancement and can lead to many opportunities to make an interactive advertisement through Snapchat itself. This could lead to Snapchat overlaying a graphic on or around something as an advertisement. For example, if you happen to have a logo it recognizes, there can be some type of overlay that targets that specific consumer. This would open up a whole range of hyper-targeted interactive advertisements.

Another example of Snapchat’s object recognition technology creating advertisements is if the application recognizes that there is a coffee cup and overlays a logo right over it – as long as this technology also recognizes that there is no other logo in that cup. Below is a picture that gives you a better idea of what I am talking about.

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This will be a test to technology and application developers as more and more of the population gets smartphones with better and better cameras. The hardware limitation for the population is slowly closing in, allowing more of the population to be capable of simple augmentations. Now, the innovations must occur in the software.

Virtual reality is gaining traction as many hardware developers are racing to gain market share as this technology keeps developing. Many low end VR headsets require a phone (Samsung and Google have recently released a headset that pairs with their latest phones), while many of the high end headsets require some sort of computer to run those programs.

As this innovation diffuses through the market, advertisers have some time to develop interactive marketing campaigns.  VR advertisers should be taking a lesson from a long forgotten video game called Battlefield 2142 (I have not forgotten). The game allowed real products or movies to advertise on in-game billboards on their giant 64-player maps. Below is an example of one of these advertisements.

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I was an avid player of this game when it was released and to this day I remember seeing posters of “Taking of Pelham 123” all around these giant immersive maps. But, how does this transfer to VR? That’s just it, VR can be used in giant expansive worlds that allow advertisers to purchase their own little corner of it.

Another way to use VR technology to expand the horizon of advertising is using it to make the popular 360 videos more immersive. Facebook and YouTube both implemented the ability to view videos while moving the frame of view with either your mouse or by physically looking around with your phone. Extend this to high quality VR, then you get what Circa, a news publisher, plans on doing. They plan on making fully immersive VR newscasts twice a week which allows the viewers to go to places they’d seldom get to go to. That could include allowing the viewer to virtually be backstage at debates, concerts, or places across the country.

Diffusion of innovation is a problem in regards to the above strategy, but it can be a great opportunity in another aspect.

VR is interactive; it requires space (for body tracking), additional equipment, and a quite a bit of investment. This problem lead to arcades popping back up again, but this time with an emphasis on VR. Taco Bell recently partnered with Sony to create a pop-up VR arcade. It not only solved the problem of equipment, it solved the problem of a niche target market. The above VR strategy (advertising within a VR world) only advertises to players who have the VR equipment and are playing the said game – which is a very small market. The arcade let many people experience VR while promoting Sony PlayStation VR as well as Taco Bell.

 

Both technologies are getting better and more advanced through the years. With the success of Pokémon Go, FB videos, and the greater accessibility of VR technologies, there are an outstanding number of ways to show advertisements to your audience while being much more engaging and interactive. It will keep expanding the horizons and platforms that advertisements can be shown on. The future will just increase the accessibility of these technologies to make AR and VR a viable platform for advertisements.