• Thursday, May 23, 2024
businessday logo


Marketing: Big data, analytics tools for deep consumer insights


Unlike before, technology has tremendously assisted in generating big data necessary for appropriate marketing. IBM, a multinational technology and consulting corporation, is at the forefront of helping clients understand their customers as individuals through the use of Big Data and Analytics.

Daniel Obi reports that as part of this ongoing effort, it recently held a CEO roundtable in Lagos, where it exposed the forces affecting the marketing and technology functions in value-driven organisations.

Globally, these are interesting times for chief marketing officers (CMOs), as the burdens of an organisation’s sustainability and growth are on them. Not only are they saddled with the responsibility of selling products, they must develop strategies to achieve this. The evolution of technology and social media has added complexity to their roles as CMOs.

The business of selling has evolved from the period when manufacturers defined the market to the period when consumers are now on the driving seats. Selling the product that will keep the company as a business going concern therefore requires understanding the consumers and their preferences. With technological evolution, reliance on yesterday’s strategy for marketing today will create disaster for any company.

At this year’s IBM CEOs’ Roundtable, the multinational company emphasised to CEOs and CMOs that marketing was experiencing continuous change, saying “it continues to experience change at a rapid pace influenced by traditional and new-age ‘market forces.’”

These forces, the organisation said, continue to combine to challenge an evolving status quo, influenced by the global knowledge and information economy, as underscored by the growing volume of structured and unstructured data (information) generated by humanity’s business and non-business activities.

“The market is therefore swelling with Big Data (information) which needs to be analysed (analytics) for business optimisation and performance management,” the firm further said.

One quick take-away from the one-day CEOs’ Roundtable is that data are at the centre of decision making as the present dynamic customer is using data to make purchasing decisions. This therefore means that companies need to analyse data from all ends – for production, marketing, and all other aspects of their value chain.

It has also become imperative that business is constantly now almost at the mercy of technology for performance/operational optimisation and corporate growth. As IBM said, technology and creativity were at the core of innovation.

With the emergence of digital platforms and social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, among others – Big Data is generated. Currently, the way Nigerian consumers, especially the youths, with their large population and their potential future buying decisions communicate with one another through technology, is amazing. This is what CMOs need to understand, it noted.

“Big Data and Analytics are therefore influencing marketing, which seeks to identify, create, maintain and manage opportunities for sales and business continuity,” IBM said.

Lugard Aimiuwu, marketing and management expert, said at the roundtable: “Technology is now constantly disruptive in a very dynamic way; it is constantly revising all the key elements and aspects of the marketing function. Organisational flexibility will therefore be the key to business sustainability. So it’s all about adaptability – this will be the core strength of any organisation that will exist into the future.”

Similarly, Kola Oyeyemi, president of Advertisers’ Association of Nigeria (ADVAN), said: “Technology is revising age old marketing conventions. The era of competitive advantage is gone. I would say that today, we should be talking about temporary competitive advantage.

“Technology is now increasingly having a huge influence on marketing, because technology innovation is redefining the role of the CMO and remoulding the marketing management function globally because technology is so disruptive, companies at best can only plan for 18 to 24 months ahead.

“The youthful profile of the Nigerian market is redefining how companies sell their products and services. How to speak to, attract and sell to these young chaps is a new challenge for firms. The young folks of today were born to the technology era. If we are going to serve them then we will have to unlearn a lot of things… mobile and social devices and systems including Big Data analytics tools and technologies will certainly help us to achieve this.”

According to IBM study, high-performing CMOs are integrating internal and external data to garner deep insights that, in turn, provide them with a much deeper understanding of their customers.

The study reveals that 94 percent of CMOs believe advanced analytics will play a significant role in helping them reach their goals.

However, a growing number of CMOs say their organisations are under-prepared to capitalise on the data explosion – 82 percent compared with 71 percent three years before.

Nearly three-quarters of CMOs, according to the study, plan to leverage partners more in the future in order to achieve their goals. The study underscores the need for CMOs to collaborate more closely with the rest of the C-suite in making strategic decisions that are supported by Big Data and Analytics.

Just as they feel under-prepared to capitalise on data, 66 percent of CMOs feel under-prepared for the growth of social media, which is evolving at a pace faster than many can cope with.

IBM believes that with a clearer picture of customer engagement, CMOs are able to address those areas that most need improvement across the entire customer journey map and which are tailored by channel, message and time to deliver a better experience across customer touch points; deeper relationship with customers; or turning customers into loyal advocates.

By collaborating with customers, as distinct from marketing to them, CMOs that are enabling customers to share their experiences via a two-way dialogue, are better positioned to design more personalised campaigns. Digitally empowered customers expect the organisations they engage with and recognise them, understand their individual needs and serve them accordingly.

According to Raliat Sunmonu, IBM senior consultant, global business services, “through our various cross-industry studies and surveys, and obviously through CMO roundtables like this, IBM is taking the conversation beyond the CEO or CIO space into the marketing space where technology has an increasingly growing role.”

The forum is part of IBM strategies in helping clients understand their customers as individuals through the use of Big Data and Analytics. Similar forum on the need for collaboration between CMOs and CIOs in proper generation and utilisation of data was held last year.