While the reams of
new data can be difficult
to manage, harvesting it
can lead to more effective
BY DOUGLAS QUENQUA
It’s no surprise that the Facebook generation,
with its relentless march of status updates, Foursquare
check-ins, tweets, texts, and Tumblr posts, invented a
shorthand acronym (TMI) to tell someone that they’ve
shared “too much information.”
What is surprising is that chief marketing officers are also
crying for mercy. As consumer data flows in from dozens of
new digital touch points — social media sites, mobile apps,
display campaigns, search engines — CMOs are struggling
to make sense of it all. In fact, managing the incoming flow
of data was named the number one challenge worldwide by
CMOs in a 2011 survey conducted by IBM.
“The data explosion is one of the biggest issues
marketers have to deal with,” says Jim Speros, CMO of
Fidelity Investments. “The data has become so varied and
voluminous that it can be hard to make sense of it all.”
Managing the data is made all the more difficult — and
urgent — by the fact that so many touch points now exist.
As consumers connect with brands across a variety of
platforms, it’s incumbent upon marketers to coordinate
them all to speak with a single, unified voice.
So how can marketers process all the information coming
from these digital sources, and synthesize it into a single,
communicable idea that spans all platforms and devices?
The Holistic View The temptation for many CMOs is to react to every report in real time, effectively turning the marketing department into a political-campaign-style war room. “It’s very easy for a brand or agency to say ‘people are talking bad about us on Facebook, let’s create a Facebook campaign to try and solve this,’” says Dan LaCivita, president
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