- Numbers can be meaningless if they are not coupled with smart analysis.
- Buzzwords like “data-driven” and “AI” can be a roadblock to digital transformation.
- The digital transformation is not going away and if you haven’t already been impacted by it then it’s only a matter of time.
- 85 percent of enterprise decision makers believe they have a limit of two years to fully adopt a data-driven strategy or risk falling behind their competitors.
Running a company has never been an exact science – at times it’s more gut feeling and gumption, directed by strategy. However, with more industries utilizing data as part of their digital transformation to inform strategic internal and external business decisions, marketers must give way to an analytical and evidence-based approach.
Often along this path, business leaders have ideas about expected outcomes. Some of these ideas have proven correct. For example, the ability to lean on research to sell an idea to a client, the value of expanding data and analytics teams and being able to more strategically cater products to data findings. But there have also been some surprises along the way.
Numbers can be meaningless
When utilizing data, one would think that numbers are the end-all, be-all. However, numbers can be meaningless if they are not coupled with smart analysis. This is why a marketing team with experienced and strategically minded data analysts, who can apply critical thinking skills to interpret findings, is key to success.
When I first began applying a data-driven strategy at the school I founded to teach Brazilian students English, with an emphasis on applying the language to business, I was relying on a rudimentary understanding of numbers. This led me to make decisions that I thought were data-driven, however, they were more emotionally fueled.
It took working with outside consultants to show me that this method was incorrect and that I needed to incorporate data analysis to my approach. Upon taking a deep dive into interpreting the numbers I discovered that my target audience was actually much larger than I originally thought.
Through further analysis, I also discovered my students preferred a digital approach which lead me to converting my physical school to an online classroom. Once I had tailored my approach to my audience, I saw my student acquisition rate increase significantly, from 3,000 students to over 110,000 students.
The experience of being proven wrong – even with figures – can be challenging, but if you’re willing to set aside your pride and listen, the results can be powerful. Had I realized this sooner, what took me four and a half years to achieve could have been attained in two, and likely resulted in my company being acquired earlier.
Resistance to the data
Another surprising element is that buzzwords can be a roadblock to digital transformation. For example, the overuse of such terminology as “data-driven” and “AI” can cause clients to be skeptical and resistant to the facts.
In my current role at experiential advertising agency Momentum, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked “Manny, everyone is talking about data. So what makes your team different?” It’s all about being smart and applying the data, rather than simply touting its existence.
For instance, for many years now we’ve been working on a series of mini events during the Super Bowl and each year the events have been successful. Incorporating foot traffic data into recent years allowed us improve on the performance. Ahead of the latest Super Bowl, my team took a deeper dive into the numbers to achieve even better results.
Consulting the data for insight into what works and what doesn’t, we presented new activations, like an innovative talk show, that made it simpler and faster to understand the brand’s message, optimized the waiting time through an improved in-queue experience, and gave the audience more chances to connect with the players.
The results proved to be a record-breaking success; improving our KPIs significantly, including an over 160% increase in brand activation engagement.
Digital transformation is a process, not a destination
Another surprising element to the digital transformation process is just that: it’s a process without a destination. You don’t just one day arrive and announce, “We have digitally transformed!” Consistent innovation is an integral part of the digital transformation process.
When I first began the procedure of digitally transforming Momentum, I created a clear and methodical blueprint for re-engineering the company’s orientations and processes for the leadership team to follow.
To begin, we employed a robust education program to cascade this information to the larger organization and shift behaviors. This included more communications regarding digital updates in our town hall meetings, changing our recruiting process and agency-wide training courses. However, we didn’t stop there – to ensure our practices and procedures are still relevant, we reevaluate our plan every six months.
The digital transformation is not going away and if you haven’t already been impacted by it then it’s only a matter of time. According to a study from IDC, 85 percent of enterprise decision makers believe they have a limit of two years to fully adopt a data-driven strategy or risk falling behind their competitors. Each executive is bound to run into challenges specific to their situation, but by naming my own, hopefully others can apply these lessons to their digital transformation journeys.
Manny Neto is a SVP of Analytics & Data Science at Momentum Worldwide. He is a media/marketing executive leader with extensive experience in business intelligence, analytics, data science, strategy, planning and product development & management.