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TDWI Upside - Where Data Means Business

Pressure on Marketers Will Drive Three Key Data Moves in 2024

The drive to do more with less is behind three key focal points for enterprises next year.

Having to do more with less will be an overarching data and analytics theme in 2024, including the rise of data clouds, the need to innovate (particularly in AI), and the need to make efficient use of an existing marketing technology stack. Companies are faced with an urgent need to ignite their customer data in pursuit of revenue, but they must do so cost-effectively while meeting customer expectations for real-time, personalized customer experiences -- while using data in accordance with privacy demands.

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Economic pressures will begin to sort out the haves from the have-nots when it comes to how well they are able to monetize their customer data. The coming year will make the dividing line clearer, with a lot depending on the decisions organizations make concerning the following three data management predictions, all centered around having to do more with less.

Prediction #1: Companies will continue to embrace the data cloud

Inefficient, costly, and monolithic data silos are one reason for the phenomenal growth of data clouds as a hot new data management trend. Data clouds simplify access to data in an era of constrained IT resources, which in turn makes it more efficient to deliver a single source of truth for customer data. Combined with customer data platform (CDP) technology, this eliminates the siloed data that traditionally prevents companies from becoming customer-centric because they lack a single view of the customer across channels. With marketing budgets strained, the disappearance of third-party cookies, and customers themselves more guarded about what they share, organizations need to prioritize the efficient collection and use of first-party data.

Data clouds help achieve that goal. In both time and expense, organizations can no longer afford to jump between different systems to try to make sense of what a customer wants and formulate a real-time response in the moment of interaction. With a CDP sitting directly on top of a data cloud, it is easier and less expensive to build a unique customer profile and then activate that profile across multiple systems.

Organizations recognize that first-party data is a valuable asset and is the foundation for delivering a personalized customer experience (CX), but for too long business users have been stymied by complex, unintegrated marketing stacks and time-consuming data transformations. That approach to making data actionable -- turning data into insight -- is no longer sustainable when customers expect real-time, personalized experiences that are consistent across channels. In a 2023 survey from Invesp, 87% of marketers said data is their organization’s most under-utilized asset, and 54% said the lack of data quality and completeness is the biggest challenge to their data-driven marketing.

Moving to a data cloud and coupling it with a CDP’s automated data quality and identity resolution addresses these issues head-on, and that trend will continue -- particularly for customer-facing brands that see a data cloud with an enterprise-grade CDP as a relatively fast, inexpensive way to monetize their customer data.

Prediction #2: Companies will try to find quick artificial intelligence (AI) wins, but customers will still be wary

Data clouds have caught fire not just because they offer a clear throughline between customer data and profit, but also because they help future-proof a business against emerging technologies, AI included. If the business needs to quickly implement a generative AI use case, connecting into a data cloud is a practical way to spin up an application. The need for consistent innovation also explains why composable CDPs are also trending, particularly for AI use cases that rely on the most accurate, complete, and reliable unified customer profile data.

Customer profile management and enrichment capabilities are essential to optimizing emerging technologies such as AI. Consider, for example, an AI chatbot engaging with a customer on the website. It stands to reason that the more intelligence the system has about an individual, the more relevant the “conversation,” particularly when it calls for a real-time response -- such as having a real-time view into an active browsing session. Experimenting with AI use cases in a crawl/walk/run approach is a sensible way for an organization to highlight any data deficits they may have and underscore the need for a robust customer profile.

A highly accurate profile, however, does not give a company carte blanche to use AI indiscriminately. It’s important to always remember that there is a customer at the other end of the interaction, and customers are still somewhat leery. In a 2023 Dynata survey that explored consumer sentiment on AI, 58% of respondents said it is important that a company is transparent about when AI is being used. Nearly half (48%) said they would interact with AI more frequently if it would make their experience with a brand more seamless, consistent, and convenient, but a majority (77%) said that CX still needs to have an element of the human touch.

AI will continue to gain a foothold in delivering a more personalized CX, but 2024 will still be marked by a methodical approach, as companies recognize that getting their data in order must come first.

Prediction #3: Efficient, effective utilization of the marketing tech stack will be a top priority

Cementing the overall “more with less” theme, the rise of the data cloud and the emergence of AI are just two of many trends that focus the spotlight on organizations finally having to optimize the marketing tech stack. Economic uncertainty and constrained marketing budgets are contributing factors, as is the importance of adhering to privacy rules and regulations guiding the collection and use of customer data.

Gartner’s 2023 Marketing Technology Survey reveals that marketing tech utilization has plummeted to 33%. One factor driving low utilization is the lack of an accurate unified customer profile that is easily accessible across the stack. In the coming year, more companies will make an honest assessment of their existing marketing tech stack in an effort to eliminate waste and overlap, and to help protect the veracity of their customer data.

With greater recognition that a pristine, unified customer profile is a direct link to profit, there will be more scrutiny placed on the overall contribution of a company’s existing marketing tech stack. Organizations will explore efficiencies to find hidden value, aka doing more with less.

Specifically, marketers will be tasked with optimizing the customer data that for the most part already exists across the enterprise, albeit siloed, but doing so cost-effectively with agility so enterprises can pivot as needed to quickly capitalize on emerging trends.

About the Author

John Nash has spent his career helping businesses grow revenue through the application of advanced technologies, analytics, and business model innovations. As chief marketing and strategy officer at Redpoint Global, John is responsible for developing new markets, launching new solutions, building brand awareness, generating pipeline growth, and advancing thought leadership. Connect with the author on LinkedIn.

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