Kara Hoisington in an Associate Consultant in Forrester's Customer Experience Consulting practice

Organizational Alignment Is Key To Data Sanity

During the first part of this series, I talked about how clients are constantly asking us what to do with their data and how they usually go right to “what technology do I need to solve this?” We learned in that post that technology is most likely not the issue (or solution). In this post, I will go to the core of the issue: your organization.

Many companies are their own worst enemy. They have set up systems and priorities that don’t align, leaving everyone in a lurch when it comes to sharing insights and making data more actionable. IT doesn’t talk to marketing. Marketing only gives requests to data analysts. Analysts don’t ask questions. This chain leaves everyone with just a sliver of the story.

In order to break down silos and open up a dialogue across business units, you have to start by asking, “What do we want from the data?” This question will start a path that first leads to where the data needs to end up and which audience is digesting it. From there, dig into where it lives (possibly in a top drawer, behind the socks . . . ) and see if what you need is there. In order to have that conversation, marketing, technology management, and analysts need to get in a room together to discuss possibilities and limitation.

Although it seems fairly small, we recently spent time with a company that never gets these people together. They know the others exist. There are chains upon chains of emails dialoging requests, but they never talk to each other. Through a facilitated conversation, they determined:

  • Their customer life cycle.
  • Touchpoints customers were engaging with.
  • Insights they wanted to extract.
  • In which systems the data related to those insights might reside.

Through this exercise, stakeholders developed a clearer picture of how data played a strategic role in delivering a better customer experience and each of their roles in optimizing its delivery within the ecosystem.