Flash Forward: Data Planning, Not Just Reporting

The last in our Flashback Flash forward series by Jim Cain. For each segment you can watch the video or read the transcript located below.

The last in our Flashback Flash forward series by Jim Cain. For each segment you can watch the video or read the transcript located below.

    Data is an asset. The more an organization, and analysts/marketers in the organization, start to think about data as something that you paid for, you created, you should own, and is important, the easier it will be to deal with changes. A number of the approaches that will need to be taken over the next few years no longer exist. What can we do instead?

    The ‘what can we do instead’ in the cookieless world, especially for first party cookies, is having first party data. Historically, most organizations that have invested in ad tech tools, martek tools, and things like Google Analytics. They were paying money to create data that lived in these products. If they ever turn the products off, they just move their data. The data itself is solid gold. It needs to be repatriated by the business. It needs to be valued. It needs to be kept clean and maintained. Organizations with depth, breadth, and quality of owned first party data will have competitive advantage over the next few years. Essentially, we’ve got to first party data, like, it’s 1999. I know it is not a Bowie reference, but I like the pun and I like Prince too. 

    First party data, as previously mentioned, is not just stuff that comes from a first party cookie. It is anything that was given to you by a stakeholder or customer with explicit consent. That includes call center data, responses to catalogs and surveys, people who interact with the live chat on your website, and people that logged into your web site or app. That first party data is absolutely solid, gold, and needs to be, not just created with increasing frequency, but captured, collected, governed, and loved. It is a big deal, and it is no longer something we can take for granted, because in a cookieless world we need to go out and get it for ourselves.


    Data Planning, Not Just Reporting


    Beyond technology, process is equally important when managing change making it easier to deal with upcoming change. Data needs to be part of planning, and not just reporting. This is a classic analyst problem – people that focus on data would like to be invited to a planning session, however, they are often only called when something is finished. 

    For example when an email is sent out to a list of a million people, they are asked to determine the results and what happened. Reporting is important in those instances, but being involved further up that decision planning chain is always a good idea. Now, it needs to be a critical one, because some things are harder than they used to be from changes to infrastructure. It becomes, “we want to send an email to part of our list,” and the analyst can say “great, what kind of reporting do you want when it’s finished? Oh, that report that you would like to generate, we actually can’t do it, because we haven’t created the data on the website yet. We’ll make a change to the data layer. When this email campaign is over, what do you want to do next? Is there data that we can create now to make better first party data for later?”

    So, including data as a critical element of planning, and not just for post evaluation, is very important. Think about data every time you do something as a digital marketer. 


    Making Data Democratic

    The ‘people side’ of being effective with these kinds of programs is equally important. Everyone inside a business needs to work together, in the same way that David Bowie and Queen worked together to write ‘Under Pressure’. Although, likely with a lot less red wine. Everyone inside an organization needs to sit in a room together, regardless of department, and say, “these are the initiatives important to my organization. Here is how data pertains to this initiative. How do we all work together?” Because, when you think about it, every business is a data business. There are organizations inside large enterprises that own certain aspects of data, but it is 2022, everyone is an analyst. Everyone is doing reporting. No one is directly in charge of digital analytics inside most organizations. 

    Winning requires collaboration. That means we need to make data democratic inside of a business. Some of this content can be found in previous webinars and talks – this goes back to the ‘Four C’s Approach to Digital Analytics’ that we have successfully helped clients rollout over the last decade. It is important to sit back and think, regardless of whether or not you have a Chief Data Officer, that data really is a team sport. The four stakeholder groups that are critical to data democracy are the IT organization, the business users, the marketers (people who own campaigns/own initiatives), and those legacy data organizations inside the business (this could be the data science team, the DD team, BI organization, and the executive team.) All four of these groups of people ultimately have one common goal: they want their business to be successful. However, all four of these groups have fundamentally different definitions of what success means:

    • IT organizations and data organizations are about risk management and allowing the business to be successful. 
    • The business users and the marketer and the executive team are about business growth, executing initiatives, generating shareholder value.

    Those groups of people are fundamentally different in terms of what business success means. It comes down to two groups of people that you need to collaborate with who are all about defense, and the other two groups of people who are all about offense. You ca not win a game without both. How do the four groups of people partner together to execute initiatives around data, where everyone wins and everyone’s philosophical mandate around business success is met as well?

    An example would be those with tag management – at the time, and part of the reason tag management was such a mess when it was originally rolled out, was because the business users and the executive teams are the ones buying the tag managers. They would sign on the dotted line, pick a provider they were interested in, and then send tag management to their technology organization and say,” I bought this, set it up.”

    With very few exceptions, the IT organization was not involved in the decision making process. They were not able to plan for capacity. They were not able to plan for requirements. They were just given a sophisticated platform and told, hurry up and get this going, because we have marketing campaigns coming. That led to minimum, viable deployments of tag managers. Things that were done once for marketing, but never considered as an asset that needs to be governed and maintained. Organizations with success now give IT a seat at the table, and not just a seat, but the ability to include their own requirements. For example, marketing wants to get their campaigns live faster,  IT can look at it and determine how to do it in such a way where they can also make the data more accurate, and the site load faster and less likely to break. In order to get capacity, support, and buy in from one organization, they need to have a seat at the table. That does not mean that it is a deadlum for a data initiative. Thinking about the curriculum world, there are a number of important initiatives around first party data creation, owning your own data, and refactoring your infrastructure that require all four of these groups.


    Democracy in Action



    When you think about a particular initiative, there is a natural department and organization that should own the initiative.

    As an example, if you were going to deploy a new email tool, the email marketing team and the business users group are the natural owners of this kind of initiative. If from the outset, they have buy-in and support from IT, from the data organization, and an active executive sponsor, where all three of those groups will provide time, capacity, support, and, most importantly, requirements, you are going to end up with a completed product. It makes the entire organization more effective. Equally, or even more importantly, an initiative that took defense into consideration with offense is going to be something that is not fragile. It is going to be something that is completed and accurate. It ideally will be something that, when completed, can be built on top of.

    When you think about data initiatives like that, technology is important, foundation is important, process is important, and the right process brings together the right people. What it all comes down to is, in a situation where you plan for first party cookie deprecation and you know that you are compliant with regulations from Belgium to Burbank. You are in a situation where the organization is all rowing together in the same direction. That is where you do not just remove all the stress that every organization feels right now with change, but future proof your organization to both rapidly and successfully deal with all the changes that are coming down the pipe, and believe me, there will be many. 

    We have a ton of great content on Napkyn’s blogs that can further some of these points. Feel free to reach out to the team directly if you would like to riff on any more of these issues.


    Missed any of previous installments in this series?

    Part 1 Flashback: Data Analytics Infrastructure 1995-2015

    Part 2 Flash Forward: Data Analytics Infrastructure: 2023

    Part 3 Flashback: HTTPS & The Rise of the Tag Management System

    Rather watch the full recording? Watch it here 24/7

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