This blog post (Part 1 in a multi-part series) introduces, at a high-level, a new maturity framework that we recommend marketers reference when considering the effectiveness of their digital intelligence program.
Preliminary feedback from senior marketing leadership (initial interviews as part of a larger study underway) has indicated general dissatisfaction with the quality and frequency of “actionable digital intelligence” empowering team decision-making. Interestingly, upon further probing, marketing Scorecards—and the often entrenched, formalized processes used to generate scorecard reporting and analysis—are most often cited as the primary source of this dissatisfaction.
At Scope Analytics Inc., we think the time has come for marketers to clearly distinguish scorecard processes from the deeper data exploration, discovery, and analysis techniques that should be recognised as the primary, driving source of actionable digital intelligence. Our initial sense is that digital analytics practitioners also find this distinction beneficial, helping to establish clearer expectations at as to the type, quality, and level of analytics output expected. As such, the framework introduced below distinguishes two distinct core competencies that all marketing organizations should develop. Each competency revolves around processes that need to be integrated and managed holistically, yet clearly differentiated as unique contributors to overall marketing success. We welcome feedback and discussion of the content presented below. Future blog posts will expand on and discuss in more detail the specifics of the framework presented here.
The future comes faster and faster and digital marketers must continually innovate to compete and win. Emerging media continues to reshape the way customers’ foster relationships with brands. The number of digital channels continues to proliferate and data volumes—the opportunity for deeper analysis and insight—are expanding, if not full-on exploding. Marketers that fail to fully embrace the growing potential of digital intelligence to proactively drive marketing innovation are missing opportunities for growth.
The time has come for marketers to recognize that a complete digital intelligence program consists of two separate, yet highly complementary analytical competencies. Each competency works in balance to accelerate digital intelligence and growth.
Scorecard reporting and analysis, the first competency, is familiar to most marketers (although scorecard quality still varies widely). Data exploration and discovery, the second competency, is practiced far less by marketers—in a systematic way, at least—and primarily because of resource and time constraints rarely receives the attention and investment that is needed.
Both competencies, however, are absolutely necessary to develop and deploy end-to-end digital intelligence programs leveraging multi-channel data to A) help manage team performance and promote accountability and B) proactively seek out new insights, knowledge, and paths towards accelerated growth.
Think of each competency is terms of the following equation:
Figure 1: Two Competencies Needed for Digital Intelligence Acceleration
Competency 1: Scorecarding for Accountability (“The Known”)
Putting Scorecards in Perspective
A scorecard is a tool for measuring strategy (“the known”). It is one of the most valuable tools available to marketers. A well designed scorecard will translate strategy into a comprehensive set of targets and key performance indicators (KPIs) that track, measure, and monitor the progress of marketing goals for the purpose of effective performance management. As the adage goes; “If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.” KPIs often include (amongst others) metrics that analyze performance for efficiency, program, brand, and customer value.
If properly implemented, scorecards create order, hold teams accountable for core activity, help achieve strategic alignment, and provide feedback on the performance of marketing teams and campaigns by reporting what is/isn’t working.
This is the upside of scorecards. A big upside! There is, however, a downside to scorecard reporting.
The Downside of Scorecard Reporting
The downside of scorecard reporting is twofold. First, they are not very good at making specific, actionable recommendations beyond broad “go/no go” decisions. Second, the narrow focus of a scorecard often causes “tunnel effect” (the first limitation greatly aggravating the second condition). In worst case scenarios, teams essentially disengage from the analytics process altogether, reducing scorecards to “doorstop reports.”
When “tunnel effect” sets-in, available data (and analysis techniques) are dramatically underutilized and opportunities for accelerated growth are systematically missed. The truth is that the formally defined activities that populate scorecards—essentially a series of managing queries and reports—function much like analytical clockwork but lack the comprehensiveness needed to deliver the robust analysis and actionable digital intelligence that marketing teams need.
The important take-away here is that scorecards are only the tip of the iceberg from a data utilization perspective. Marketers must clearly separate the role of scorecards and data exploration processes or suffer the Gordian knots that leave marketing teams uninspired and flat-footed. Moreover, to prevent and counterbalance “tunnel effect,” data exploration and discovery processes are needed.
Data exploration processes support strategic efforts but are not limited in the same way by the narrow scope of strategy execution.
Competency 2: Data Exploration for Innovation (“The Unknown”)
What is a Data Exploration?
Data exploration is a process that widens focus. It is about discovering new paths forward within a wider field of opportunity. The data exploration process is a constant re-calculating, collecting and configuring of clickstream and customer data in new ways—using a variety of tools and analysis techniques that bust through the limitations of scorecard reporting—to optimize digital performance and, moreover, search out net-new insights that drive marketing innovation (“the unknown”).
Figure 2: Two Competencies for Digital Intelligence Acceleration – Relational View
Unlike scorecard reporting, data exploration is primarily hypothesis-driven and requires greater creativity and marketing team involvement to achieve results (remember: analysis and insight creation is a human activity based on data, experience, perspective, knowledge of the customer, business, industry, etc.). It requires collaboration, dialogue, and information search before analysis can begin. It makes use of data to ask answerable questions, challenge orthodoxies that limit perception, and solve old problems in new ways, an uncovering that reveals new possibilities.
From an analytics perspective, data exploration is the transformation engine in continuous improvement processes that support strategy. It is the strongest link between a culture of accountability and the growing need for innovative customer experiences.
Introducing the ‘Digital Intelligence Acceleration Maturity Matrix’
“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
As stated above, the processes, practices, and behaviours of a digital marketing team require both digital intelligence competencies. Scorecards should be implemented to manage performance and create accountability. Data exploration, on the other hand, should be focused on solving problems and discovering inventive, cutting-edge approaches to digital marketing.
Not surprising then, in the context of our Digital Intelligence Acceleration Maturity Matrix (see Figure 4 below), each competency forms a major axis in our two dimensional analysis (four celled matrix). The horizontal axis represents the Data Exploration competency and the vertical axis represents the Scorecarding competency. Scope Analytics Inc. is finalizing the comparative analysis criteria for this maturity matrix.
Figure 4: Digital Intelligence Acceleration – Maturity Matrix
Based on preliminary results of Scope Analytics Inc. research, most digital marketing programs (to date) are clustered in quadrants #1 and #2. The scores in these quadrants are dependent on the sophistication of scorecard reporting processes. However, very few digital marketing teams are currently located in quadrants #3 or #4, where scores are dependent on the sophistication of data exploration and discovery processes.
As a quick acid test, ask yourself, how much time do you currently spend using data to proactively add value by helping customers achieve their goals more effectively? How often do you use data to proactively identify new ways of integrating the web, email, social media, and mobile to build superior digital experiences? How often do you use data to unlock sales channels that better engage and convert browsers into buyers? What new ideas for reaching potential customers and prospects across emerging digital channels have you recently considered and tested?
The objective of the Digital Intelligence Acceleration Maturity Matrix is to help marketers understand what specific capabilities are needed to score high on each axis, the expected benefit of improved performance and, furthermore, specific actions that can be taken to successfully implement end-to-end digital intelligence programs. Forthcoming blog posts will reveal specific criteria of the matrix and elaborate on scope and meaning of scores falling into each of the four quadrants.
More to come…. please follow Scope Analytics Inc. on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or LinkedIn to stay connected.
About Scope Analytics Inc.
Scope Analytics Inc. is a digital intelligence consultancy providing consulting, managed services, and training in the areas of digital strategy, web analytics, and interactive marketing and channel optimization. We specialize in helping clients develop and deliver comprehensive data-driven strategies for the web and other emerging digital marketing channels, including video, social media, and mobile.
Two core philosophies at Scope Analytics Inc.:
Innovate on Purpose
Data represents opportunity. Yet, most web-based data is dramatically underutilized. Marketers need creative service solutions that help them move beyond typical “doorstop reporting” practices and transition into learning environments that proactively seek new knowledge and insights that drive marketing innovation – a layer of exploration and insight discovery using all sources of data to uncover actionable digital intelligence.
Data helps, People Deliver
People give data value. More focus is needed on teams and the digital intelligence processes that unite those teams. Technology is critical and content powers customer engagement. But data uncovers paths for growth and is marketing’s key “currency.” This currency must circulate within teams to create an internal economy that empowers individuals to drives business forward.