Marketing, IT and Commerce are coming together in the business world, and the role of technology as a business enabler is binding these discrete functions. We also see marketers struggling to make sense of Big Data captured from social media and other channels.
Here is an interview snippet of Romi Mahajan (President, KKM Group) with TFM&A India, explaining what is driving this convergence and how marketers can take advantage of Big Data.
Q. Marketing, IT, and Commerce used to be discrete functions. But now these are coming together. What is driving this convergence? What role is technology playing here?
Yes, in some ways Marketing, IT and Commerce are coalescing into one narrative — the narrative of business. This has been a function of three clear impulses in the organization:
1. The desire to understand what value each role brings to the bottom-line and thus to “measure and quantify.”
2. The desire to find cross-functional efficiencies and opportunities
3. The march of technology and the modes in which it enables business i.e. the business-technology singularity.
Q. Marketing heads are hesitant to integrate traditional marketing with digital/online. What could be some of the reasons for this and what is your advice to them?
The pressures on marketing have been back-breaking during the last decade; the relentless “do more with less” mantra and the psychosis of “ROI” have created a situation in which marketers are forced by the executive cadre to pretend they are performing an act of science versus one of a blend of art and science.
Thus, marketers tend to think in terms of “measurable silos” and forget that a truly useful marketing program starts with the needs of the audience and communities and determines medium (or media) second. Most put medium first because they find some media more measurable than others; while that might feel good in the short-term, in the long-term it is deleterious.
Q. What is the opportunity that Big Data presents to the marketers? How do they take advantage of Big Data?
Big Data is no doubt a potential vein of gold for marketers but it’s also a potential minefield. In Big Data Nirvana, a marketer can elicit correlation and wisdom from data; in Nirvana’s opposite, marketers can be deluged by information and can surmise wildly inaccurate things from misunderstanding the data points they collect and analyze. Big Data is really about Prediction but it is laced with both Promise and Peril.
Q. What are the pitfalls (to embracing Big Data solutions) and what are some of the things you’d caution them about?
The basic pitfall with the notion of Big Data is an epistemological one — in the minds of those who proffer Big Data solutions, one can know everything. In reality, knowledge of what a business outcome came to pass is imperfect — the son/daughter never truly knows who the father is.
From there emanates the rest of the pitfalls — information overload, incorrect analysis, analysis paralysis, and a whole host of other maladies.
Q. Are marketers grappling with an information overload? Is this just too much information to process in too little time? Are they overloaded to the point of submission?
Marketers have been complicit in their own misery — a sort of business Stockholm syndrome. They collect reams of data and pretend to analyze it; they then create fanciful campaigns that act on that analysis — sometimes they are right and sometimes they are wrong. The vagaries of human experience and decision making are just too strong.
So yes, there is information overload and as we know from science, there are only so many variables one can create a perfect solution for.
Romi is an Advisor to start ups and an angel investor. He is a prolific writer, well-known speaker and has authored two books on marketing, the most recent one titled ‘To Thine Own Self: Honesty in Marketing’.