A recent study by Forbes Insights, Rocket Fuel and Spencer Stuart presents the latest developments in dealing with Big Data. The group interviewed nearly 300 senior executives in September/October 2014 for their worldwide survey, including 21% from the Asia Pacific region.

Although the use of large amounts of data in marketing already plays a big role in our industry, the potential for growth is still huge.

Companies are increasingly investing in technologies for digital advertising, as well as technology partners or in-house experts. According to the study, almost 75% of the companies surveyed encourage their staff with further developments regarding data analysis.

The corresponding report, Data-Driven Insights Are Only Part of the Journey: Today's Best CMOs Take Action reveals the following findings:

  • Data to the rescue. In a similar study by Forbes and Rocket Fuel which they conducted the year before, 52% of the respondents claimed they understand Big Data and its benefits well. This figure swells to 77% this year. Meanwhile, 91% of respondents agree—that the ability to rapidly collect and analyze data in an increasing number of ways is becoming more important. Moreover, CMOs are significantly more likely to hold this view than are CEOs—an indication that the marketing function at many companies will need to work a bit harder on building its business case. 
  • Those who know how to deal with big data, generate more data from different sources. Whether web, mobile, CRM systems, email or even GPS, those who are familiar with Big Data can get far more knowledge from existing data sources. Machine-aided learning plays a decisive role here. Slightly less than three-quarters (73%) of companies said to make use of machine-aided learning to analyze large amounts of data and to generate added value. Among those saying they have a good understanding of Big Data, the figure rises to 96%. 
  • At first glance, the persons in charge seem to be satisfied with their current marketing performance. Based on the proportion of marketing on sales success, 90% of the respondents said that their results correspond to expectations (62%) or even exceeding (28%) them. In terms of marketing’s contribution to the launching of new products overall, 85% say their efforts are meeting (49%) or exceeding (36%) expectations. 
  • However, on closer inspection it becomes clear that the high results are a matter of low expectation. Almost half of the respondents said that their company is wasting money in its marketing initiatives - especially CEOs and representatives of the insurance and healthcare industries share this view. Slightly more than half judged that their company does not exactly know who uses their products and half stated that they do not understand exactly who likes or dislikes their products. 
  • The better the understanding of Big Data, the stronger the marketing performance. Those who “know” Big Data tend to significantly outperform those who “do not” across a range of key objectives. That is, those who “know” Big Data have far keener insight into who is engaging with or who likes/dislikes their products or services. They are also far less likely to feel they are wasting money on marketing initiatives. 
  • Those who understand Big Data are significantly more effective in targeting customers. Across a range of media, including traditional avenues such as television and print but also across the digital and even out-of-home spectrums, those companies with a good understanding of Big Data score significantly higher relative to the overall findings. 
  • Digital advertising is on the rise. In a move complementary to an expanding reliance on data to inform marketing, companies are meanwhile accelerating their investments in digital advertising. To get it done, companies are using a portfolio approach—simultaneously investing more in agencies, technology partners and in-house teams. 
  • In accordance with all of the above, businesses are investing in data-focused talent. Nearly three-quarters of companies are operating under a significant mandate to improve quantitative and analytical skill sets through training and related initiatives. An additional one out of five companies have plans to implement such a program.
  • The CEO/CMO partnership. Charting a path for marketing in the digital age requires enormous focus and investment. Getting it going—and keeping things moving—requires a close working relationship with peers from the C-suite. Overall, the survey shows that the overwhelming majority of CEOs report a good relationship with their CMO—and vice versa. But it is worth noting: such partnerships are significantly stronger at companies that “know” Big Data.

For more detailed information, download the study - for free.

By Daniela La Marca