Businesses Spending on Big Data Marketing but Not Hiring for It

New study shows marketers are investing in technology to drive data-driven marketing activities, but there's an alarming lack of skills

A report by data-driven marketing specialist Infogroup Targeting Solutions found that companies are continuing to ramp up their spending on big data marketing initiatives in 2014 (62 percent of companies expect their big data marketing budgets to increase). However, most of those companies are focusing on technology, not people-57 percent of companies say they do not plan to hire new employees for their data efforts in 2014.

That may be a costly error in the long run, says David McRae, president of Infogroup Targeting Solutions.

"The survey findings also indicate that marketers are moving from the information-gathering stage to the analytics phase of big data adoption," McRae says. "But a downturn in hiring could stall big data implementation, as the need for human capital is greatest during the analysis and action stages."

"Big data is meaningless without manpower," he adds. "While it's exciting that most companies are making bigger investments in big data, marketers should not forget that it takes people to make sense of the information. Hiring before reaching the analytics stage enables companies to become data-led and act on the data."

Of those marketers that are planning to hire for data-related positions this year, 59 percent plan to hire a data analyst or strategist.

Infogroup surveyed nearly 400 marketers at the Direct Marketing Association's DMA 2013 conference in October for its Big Data's Big Step report. It found that 54 percent of marketers have already invested in big data, and 61 percent of those early adopters already report positive ROI. Also, many marketers expect to start seeing a positive ROI in the next year (23 percent) or two years (23 percent).

Additionally, more than half of the early adopters say they are well into or past the initial data access phase of their initiatives, having conquered the challenges associated with data collection and cleansing. Those early adopters are now focusing on what Infogroup calls the second and third phases of adoption: insights and deployment.

Marketers have also shifted their perceptions in terms of the barriers they see to big data adoption. In 2012, Infogroup says half of respondents said analyzing or applying data would be their biggest data-related challenge in 2013. Fast-forward a year, and respondents say that budget limitations (35 percent), lack of quality data (27 percent) and limited tools and technology (25 percent) are the biggest challenges they face in using big data to deliver multichannel marketing programs.

Four Tips for Staying the Course with Data-Driven Marketing

To help marketers become more data-driven, Infogroup offers four recommendations:

  • View big data adoption as a process. Big data adoption isn't a goal. It's a means to the end of improving customer engagement, increasing retention and loyalty and optimizing marketing performance over time. Keep in mind that big data adoption is a multi-year investment that requires planning, resources and patience.
  • Start now and be deliberate. Since you can't tackle big data in a day, you should start small and be intentional about implementation. Start now or risk falling behind competitors who are already moving on to more advanced phases of implementation.
  • Temper expectations about ROI. Yes, many marketers say they're already seeing returns on their investment in big data, but a comprehensive multi-year investment strategy takes time to pay off. Initial returns may be small, but let those early returns give you the patience to continue building out your strategies in the more difficult phases of analytics and deployment.
  • Spend on people, not just technology. It's true that technology is essential to making a big data initiative work, but it's a critical misstep to overlook talent. People are the ones who make data meaningful, and not hiring the right employees or partners can cause your otherwise sound big data implementation plan to fail. Additionally, McKinsey and Company have predicted that by 2018, the U.S. will face a shortfall of 140,000 to 190,000 data analysts and 1.5 million data managers. Companies that hire early are likely to fare better.

"Big data implementation is a multi-year process that requires sustained investment in technology and talent," McRae says. "To maintain momentum, marketers need to create an intentional roadmap because big data cannot be tackled in a day."

Thor Olavsrud covers IT Security, Big Data, Open Source, Microsoft Tools and Servers for CIO.com. Follow Thor on Twitter @ThorOlavsrud. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline, Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn.

Read more about marketing in CIO's Marketing Drilldown.

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

Is AI on course to take over human creativity?

Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.

Jason Dooris

CEO and founder, Atomic 212

Are you leading technology changes or is technology leading you?

In a recent conversation with a chief technology officer, he asserted all digital technology changes in his organisation were being led by IT and not by marketing. It made me wonder: How long a marketing function like this could survive?

Jean-Luc Ambrosi

Author, marketer

Disruption Down Under – What’s Amazon’s real competitive advantage?

Savvy shoppers wait in anticipation, while Australian retailers are gearing up for the onslaught. Amazon’s arrival is imminent.

Thanks for picking this up. We are always happy to add richness to our products and in turn the lives of our followers and fans.

Fitbit Middle East

​Fitbit announces new virtual race platform to enhance customer experience

Read more

Thanks for a very interesting article. B2B marketing seems tricky. I think that marketing plays a vital part - it can build the brand and...

Aaren

From tactical overhead to strategic growth driver: B2B marketing in the digital age

Read more

meanwhile loads of people with digital skills are not finding work or getting an opportunity to be hired?? Double standards perhaps.

Graduate dying on centrelink

Report reveals Australia faces digital skills shortage

Read more

These laws are in one way or other giving businesses to VPN service providers & other cyber utilities. Just read PureVPN claiming 37%...

Paige Hudson

Getting prepared for mandatory data breach reporting

Read more

Great Post.Thanks for sharing such an informative article.I have worked with Ally Digital Media and it has a very good service which is b...

Utkarsh Kansara

Predictions: 17 digital marketing trends for 2017

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in