Get the most leverage from your B2B marketing analytics efforts! The first crucial step is to ensure these five key elements are in place.

In my previous post, I explained what B2B marketers can gain from using advanced analytics. But because many marketers lack the foundation for planning, implementing and using big data, adoption of advanced analytics remains low. Without putting in place the required elements for an analytics foundation, marketers will continue to find that fulfilling the promise of big data’s benefits is out of reach.

To get the most leverage from their analytics efforts, organizations must first ensure the following five elements are in place:

  • Culture. The ability to make data-driven decisions and implement enduring change across the organization is arguably the most important benefit of using big data and advanced analytics. But in many instances, brilliant analytical insights cannot be transformed into business improvement because the organization is unable to incorporate them into process and behavior changes.
  • Expectations. The organization must have consistent expectations for its use of analytics to explain performance and facilitate decisionmaking. There must be a shared vision of the insights that big data and analytics will yield and how they will impact decisionmaking.
  • Process. The organization must have processes for analysis and reporting, as well as an engagement model for helping transform business problems and managing analytics efforts that benefit the business.
  • Skills and tools. With the proliferation of systems and applications, organizations can easily acquire new technology before they are ready to use it. In addition to a technology infrastructure, the organization must have employees with adequate skills to use the tools and interpret the results. In the world of big data, these skills are not likely to reside in the marketing organization; they may exist in pockets across the company or in a centralized analytics function.
  • Data. Big or small, structured or unstructured, data fuels analytics efforts, and it requires an underlying infrastructure to support it. Developing this infrastructure is often a significant challenge, because advanced analysis requires internal data from repositories across marketing, sales, services, training and finance, as well as external data from social media and other sources. IT and marketing must work together with the same set of priorities to ensure that the data infrastructure is in place.

The promise of big data and analytics – and the insights they bring to light – are compelling. But it takes more than technology to transform insights into true business performance improvement. For an organization to benefit from the much-hyped big data, it must have realistic expectations, obtain the resources to make it work, and be prepared to implement the changes that the insights indicate are needed.