Most of us have heard of the “left-brain, right-brain” theory of how the human mind functions. The right side of our brain is supposed to be creative and intuitive, while the left side of our brain is supposed to deal with logic and reason. Therefore, in the common understanding, the right side of the brain produces art and the left side deals with numbers.
However, that line of thinking is increasingly coming into question. For example, a 2013 study out of the University of Utah suggests that activity on both sides of the brain remains pretty much constant, whether a person is “creative” or “logical,” suggesting that even if one side is logical and the other creative, we pretty much use both sides of our brains no matter what our goals.
Within marketing departments, there is also a “left” or “right” dichotomy, with data and analytics on the left and creative teams on the right. However, like the human brain, most modern businesses need both sides to function healthily.
Algorithms and analytics rule
Even though most CMOs would probably declare creativity the most important factor in a successful marketing department, we live in a world where algorithms and analytics have become a major part of our day-to-day operations.
Many companies are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of data flooding into our organizations from every channel, not to mention the ever-changing metrics businesses are increasingly expected to use in order to make sense of that data.
But our goals could be too short-sighted
And it could be that the reason so many are feeling a bit fatigued from all that data is because we are focusing on wringing immediate solutions from data rather than focusing on the long term.
The Domo study also found that 26% of senior marketers believe that the C-Suite is overly focused on short-term, rather than long-term solutions.
Furthermore, 18% believe that a lack of transparent systems by which to collate data is causing major communication problems within organizations.
These seemingly disparate issues actually have the same root cause. Both problems stem from a lack of connection between people and data. Brands need to look for data solutions that improve communication and help remove the barriers preventing organizations from becoming holistically data-driven.
And for marketing, finding a connection between people and data also means looking at the bigger picture. It’s clear that traditional “creative” marketing tools and processes are becoming less effective and less of a primary focus for the enterprise. But is focusing wholehearted on data really the solution?
The answer isn’t data or creativity
Marketing has historically been built around a creative heart. It is the function of brand narrative, emotional appeal and customer communications.
Those are still important, but they’re now joined by data, analytics and a greater rational understanding of the customer’s whole experience and touch points with other departments.
The debate about which should dominate marketing — left brained, rational data or right brained, emotive creativity — is a false choice. The answer lies in a balanced, central-brained approach, and it is the CMO’s opportunity to create this balance.
It’s data-driven creative
However, research shows that there’s still a great deal of work to be done before most organizations can say their creative is truly data-driven.
The study found that 64% of senior marketers in large enterprise organizations believe that data and analytics skills alone are most important in the modern marketing department, while just 31% say there should be an even balance between data and creative.
But many experts, including those who researched and wrote an article for Issue 22 of the Deloitte Review, warn CMOs away from creating a binary where data matters more than creative:
“Much has been said about the increasing need for strong data-analytics capabilities in marketing, and rightly so. Yet this should not tempt CMOs to undervalue the creative, right-brain skills that marketers have more traditionally valued. Only by marrying the two can CMOs bring insight and actionable guidance to organizations, and it requires a forward-thinking, strategic mind-set.”
In much the same way that scientists found that humans need to use both sides of their brain for both creativity and logic to thrive, organizations need access to data and insights across departments and teams in order to better inform creative solutions.
Adopting data management solutions that allow all teams easy, collaborative access across organizations is the only way to achieve long-term goals using data-focused solutions. Only when the “left” and “right” come together are organizations able to fully thrive.
For more information on how to adopt unified solutions for juggling strategic, business and operational goals better than ever before, download Domo’s white paper “Marketing’s New M.O.”