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?
The leader of Qantas’ new audience data business, Red Planet, has warned against establishing standalone data strategies, saying any data-driven activity must be embedded within commercial context.
Speaking at the Teradata Marketing Integrated 2014 event at Sydney’s National Maritime Museum, Red Planet and loyalty services executive manager, Vaughan Chandler, said the group had opted not to adopt a dedicated data strategy because it would isolate such capabilities from the day-to-day strategic thinking driving the business.
“We have a very structured approach to how we manage the data itself, but if you adopt a ‘data strategy’, it becomes removed from the commercial strategy and thinking of the business,” he told attendees.
“This ends up running in parallel, and becomes more about systems integration and reconciliation.
“But if you are running a predictive model, for example, you are building in error by definition of what you are doing and that requires new ways of thinking.”
Red Planet is a B2B marketing services business launched by Qantas in September to provide the airline and its partners with media buying, analytics and research competencies.
The division will undertake market research with select Qantas Acquire and Frequent Flyer customers, and is also onselling its ability to marry offline and online behavioural data and overlay this across media buying in order to provide more targeted marketing.
Chandler said it was imperative the organisation ensured every commercial decision utilised data and that every data-driven decision goes through appropriate teams.
“Data is fundamental in the psyche of how we manage decisions and be strategic,” he said.
In response to a question on how Red Planet prioritises data projects, Chandler said it is just as important to recognise the data jobs that aren’t worth pursuing, as those that are.
“It’s a trade-off of what to do and what not to do – it’s that science of balance that makes the difference,” he said.
Chandler added the Qantas Loyalty leadership team comes together regularly to work out what initiatives the business is keen to focus on before work is undertaken. All data analytics capability has also been centralised across the group to ensure teams are building models that are being shared across the business.
“Rather than have pockets of analysts, this provides a collegiate feel. A big problem in corporates is that this [data analytics] is quid pro quo, or it’s dominated by the unit that owns 80 per cent of the P&L. For us, it’s about managing dynamics so that is well understood,” he said.
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