80 percent of consumer data is wasted, says IDC

by Beth Schultz, All Analytics, December 24, 2013

Research firm says that tons of customer data is going to waste

If you've taken a look at the latest A2 infographic, Listening to the Voice of the Customer, you know of the disconnect between marketing's desire to become customer-centric and its ability to get there. Heck, even if you're not in marketing, you can well imagine the challenge.

Marketing has to be in charge of the customer's digital experience, yet digital life is changing at a rapid pace. While the customer voice grows ever stronger, it's coming from many directions and in many forms. Marketing's view remains largely channelized, and rather myopic as a result.

The answer is simple -- on paper, that is. "We need modern marketing and modern selling, both of which put the buyer front and center. To achieve this, you're going to need an aggressive focus on data, on content, and on the competencies of using these new digital channels," says Kathleen Schaub, vice president of IDC's CMO Advisory Service.

Ah, if only real life were so simple.

As much as companies understand the need for data and analytics and are evolving their relationships with both, they're really not moving quickly enough, Schaub suggested during an IDC webinar earlier this week about the firm's top 10 predictions for CMOs in 2014. "The aspiration is know that customer, and know what the customer wants at every single touch point. This is going to be impossible in today's siloed, channel orientation."

Companies must use analytics to help take today's multichannel reality and recreate "the intimacy of the corner store," she added.

Yes, great idea. But as IDC pointed out in the prediction I found most disturbing -- especially with how much we hear about customer analytics -- gobs of data go unused. In 2014, IDC predicted, "80 percent of customer data will be wasted due to immature enterprise data 'value chains.' " That has to set CMOs to shivering, and certainly IDC found it surprising, according to Schaub.

"Clearly, the attention to the data within companies is growing, but given what we think is the impact of it, there wasn't enough attention" in IDC's technology marketing benchmark, she said. Preventing such waste will take initiative within marketing as well as in IT -- and she pointed to four categories:

  1. Missing data. "Marketers need to think about what it means to know everything about customers, then identify the most valuable pieces and figure out how to get them," said Schaub. She used the sales dialogue as an example, with the idea being that phone calls and meeting notes get transcribed and used with semantic analytics. "It's a future view, but at least companies need to be thinking about this."
  2. Unavailable data. This is somewhat similar to missing data, I think, but IDC's point is that this is data that's locked and not available for marketing's use. "Data comes in a lot of forms and formats, and it has to be aggregated quickly and efficiently" for it to be useful.
  3. Junk data. You might have a situation where the data is being acquired and made available but, frankly, it's garbage. IDC's data group researchers say that some 80% of data collected has no meaning whatsoever, Schaub said. "Being smart enough and having a tool to be able to differentiate between the signal and the noise is an important part of data management and making this all work."
  4. Late data. "Between every click on your website or click on one of your emails or a response to an offer is an opportunity for data to be used and used better. If you have data but it's not available to your systems in real-time in terms of the digital dialogue, then it's pretty much useless."

So think about your own company. Would you say that 80 percent of customer data is wasted? Do you have any ideas on how to shrink that percentage? I'd love to hear your ideas, so share below.

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