Data Driven: Behind the Curtain

A look at the people and departments responsible for marketing data

Over the past season, we have been looking at many data-driven elements, including the data itself and the processes that are involved in analysis and reporting. However, a simple, often-overlooked, but key part of the whole process is the people who work with the data. Different people are involved across so many parts of the data process that it is worth a few moments to consider this fundamental question: How much does the WAY people interact with the data have to do with the quality and usefulness of the data itself?

The exact same data elements, by themselves, can mean different things to different people. Consider the simple chart, to the right, of some very basic data.

Here is a list of all the people from different departments who have something to do with this data coming together or acting on the data, and what is on their minds:

1. IT Person: “What exactly does ‘revenue’ represent? In my world, it is a combination of field No. 75 in our order database and No. 88 in the Web database. However, there was a change in the way field No. 88 was defined between 2011 and 2012. I wonder if this is really an apples-to-apples comparison?”

2. Web Master: “I wonder how much of this revenue is online versus offline? I know our online revenue has been growing faster than the 9.6 percent segment reported, but that does not appear to be reflected here. I am responsible for more of this than is being reported.”

3. Marketing Vice President: “I need to revisit my plan for next season to see where to find new growth opportunities. The problem is that we did not really resolve the attribution issues in our last meeting, so I am not totally sure which media channels are driving the growth reflected here.”

Geoff Wolf is EVP of client strategy at the Mission, Kan.-based direct marketing agency J. Schmid & Associates.
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