More than half of Australian CMOs not equipped to deal with big data onslaught

New research of senior marketers in Australia finds most see the value in improving relationships between marketing and IT as they strive to bring data analytics and insights into their organisations

A new report on Australian chief marketing officers (CMOs) has found most see a closer relationship between marketing and IT to be vital as they grapple with building better big data strategies.

The new The big and small of big data report produced by consultancy Torque Data and Sweeney Research, together with ADMA, found just 10 per cent of senior marketers are using data well and 9 per cent are driving significant results from big data marketing programs.

However, 27 per cent are doing nothing at all with data, and nearly one in 10 marketers dismiss big data as ‘the next big fad’.

Of the 78 per cent of marketers who do believe big data is critical and the 72 per cent who claim to be using big data, the vast majority are focused on reporting, rather than forward-looking insights driving genuine value. According to the report, 42 per cent are using big data initiatives for customer acquisition, 34 per cent for retention. Only one-quarter were looking at the benefits for cross-selling and upselling.

The report also found that there is little correlation between the size of company, marketing or IT budget and the success of big data initiatives. In fact, smaller companies are performing just as well as their larger and better equipped counterparts.

For example, 38 per cent of companies with less than 500 staff are using big data either ‘a lot’ or a ‘fair amount’, compared with 30 per cent of those with more than 500 employees.

Not surprisingly, skills gap emerged as a major barrier, and just over half of all respondents claimed a lack of internal expertise is hindering their data efforts. Sixty-nine per cent of senior marketers cited a real skills shortage, and 72 per cent said big data and marketing analytics experts will be one of the hottest talent areas over the next 12 months.

In addition, 54 per cent of marketing departments admitted they were not equipped to implement programs effectively.

What was encouraging was the realisation that IT departments play a role in improving this situation. Ninety-two per cent of respondents agreed marketing and IT should work more closely when it comes to big data.

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“Many may be surprised that we have some world-leading, data-based marketing in Australia, but those businesses that are unlocking the secrets are treating it like fight club and not telling anyone,” Torque Data CEO, Oliver Rees, commented.

“Too many Australian marketers are verging on complacency, feeling that since no one really knows what to do they can sit back and wait. The first these marketers will know of their competitors’ capability is when it negatively impacts their own business performance, and by then they’ll be well behind.”

Rees also pointed out many marketers are confusing analytics with a comprehensive data strategy, or are being stymied by poor relationships between marketing and IT.

But Sweeney’s managing director, Erik Heller, was encouraged by those organisations jumping in and having a go. The report also found 82 per cent of Australian marketers expect big data marketing budgets will increase in the next two years.

“While resource constraints certainly shone through, many marketers are not allowing this to hold them back and are adopting quite an experimental approach,” he said. “They are happy to start small, test and learn and not worry too much about this like ROI at this stage. In true Australian spirit, they are simply ‘giving big data a go’.”

The research was based on surveys and interviews with more than 70 senior marketers in Australia, 60 per cent of which worked in organisations with more than 500 employees.

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