Marketing experts assure that data will be the new electricity in 3–4 years

At the launch of the 13th edition of BW Businessworld Marketing Whitebook, marketing experts explored whether data has really failed marketers with data-led insights not converting into realities in 2016

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Jul 31, 2017 8:21 AM

The 2016 US election was a classic example of how the data from major vote forecasters, including Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight site, the New York Times’ Upshot and the Princeton Election Consortium failed the country. The discussion about the same took place at the launch of the 13th edition of the BW Businessworld Marketing Whitebook, where marketing experts like Deepak Pargaonkar (Senior Director, Solutions Engineering - India, Salesforce,) Guy Hearn (Chief Innovation Officer - APAC, Omnicom Media Group,) Parag Amalnerkar (Director Marketing - India & South Pacific , NetApp,) Rupa Roy (Head - Marketing, India & Global Servoces, McAfee,) Vasantha Kumar (Director, Marketing & Communications - India & South Asia, IBM) and Baldeep Singh (Country Head - India, WPP Data Alliance,) were present. In their discussion, they tried to understand if data had indeed failed marketers with data-led insights not converting into realities in 2016.


Singh felt that the use of data right now is too singular. Hearn added that there is use of data in the interest of increased targeting. “We can target more efficiently and effectively. The other area is data base where the creativity is under-utilised. We are talking about things like dynamic creative optimization, which allow the use of different types of content and different spokespeople, different messaging depending on data and what the customer wants or hunts for. It’s underexploited. It’s the beauty of data to drive creativity or trigger particular marketing,” he said. 


Hearn shared his observations from his understanding of the India market. “What’s different is that different marketers have different understanding of data and different knowledge of data sets in their organizations. It’s common now to get a separate brief for media planning, buying and a different brief for data analytics because people are realizing that different techniques are needed. In three to four years’ time, data analytics will be so embedded into all preferences that data will be like electricity,” he said.


Singh touched upon the US elections and how instances like these make people realize that data perhaps failed them. 


Kumar felt it isn’t about analytics. “If you travel back and look at steps people are taking and the kind of data people are using, you will see efficiency coming through. Eighty per cent of data that’s generated is typically images, videos, sounds and words. Till two-three years ago, we didn’t have a way in which we could use the data. Today, we have ways and means by which we can use it. Whether these are homemakers, creative artists or music producers they are using data to inform the world of their creativity. Coming back to elections, when we are talking about predictive models, you would like to look at how these models inform themselves over a period of time. That’s the learning bit,” he said.


Singh also brought out the security aspect with respect to how people tend to give away data everywhere and increased cases of conning credit cards. Roy threw some glaring statistics of over 25 threats daily a decade back against five lakh today. She said, “We just started talking about privacy law. There should be clear awareness of what we are using the data for and how secured the systems are. As an organization we need to be collectively working on privacy laws. In case of Aadhar and PAN card details, it’s important for us to know how we are using this data because it’s personal information out there in the market. We marketers leverage that data in India. But are we spamming them? These are the conversations we need to have.” 


Hearn added that monetization of data will help in future. “You need to teach consumers the value of their data. Then there will be lot less fear,” he said.


Pargaonkar, who often faces questions like ‘how is my data secure?’ added that education about the value of data applies to everyone. “It’s important that as corporate citizens, when we care for the corporate data, we should care for individual data as well as spread awareness about consumer education,” he said. He also mentioned that today, CMOs are responsible for consumer experience. “You need to give consumers what they want in terms of products and services. Many organizations in India are doing that by understanding the importance of data, gathering it and operationalizing it for various purposes,” he added.


Amalnerkar added that as relevant and critical as it has become, the core skill that they are expected to bring is reading insights. “Then we need to see whether the data is secure and private,” he said.


Roy mentioned that marketers are challenged by what they can do with data. “Ninety per cent of the data that we utilize for activities, we don’t use today because we don’t know how to decipher it. That’s where we marketers need to start focusing. Data is God but how we analyze it and report to market is very important,” she said.


Kumar stressed on the need to translate transaction data from an individual interaction perspective. “As marketers, our first challenge at the base level is to capture all this transactional data in a format from an individual perspective. That’s one of the tasks IBM has undertaken.” 


The speakers even discussed AI where Kumar mentioned that it’s like teaching a child. “AI is augmented intelligence. It’s about how any professional uses these techniques and gets better at their job. AI is a good thing. We have just begun in the space you are seeing,” he said.


However, Amalnerkar was a bit wary about AI and pointed out that it will face a lot of resistance before it can do any good. Hearn said that there’s a lot of fear around AI and even confessed that it will lead to job loss ‘sooner than we think.’ But there’s a silver lining, as he believes that technology will create new jobs and opportunities.


Security seemed to be a major concern as Singh posed another question to Roy and asked if marketers are doing enough to educate people about security applications and whether they could do more. To this, Roy answered, “Few years back, security was good to have. Now it’s a must-have at both corporate and consumer level. From a security perspective, people are using the right tools and are conscious about what they share. Millennials are much more aware and savvy than the former generation. That’s a challenge but we will be there. With all the incidences that are happening, security has become a priority right now. This is here to stay. Data is very important from a security perspective.” 


Singh concluded the session stating that data hasn’t failed us yet. “It’s still too early to say and not sure if we agree to it. We are still scratching the surface of certain things like programmatic. There’s a lot more to do with data,” he said.

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