AI’s catalyzing role in harvesting and unifying engagement data

by | Jul 24, 2018 | Marketing, Public Relations

Whether you’re an executive at the source of product supply, in the engine room of shopper attraction, or at the point of commercial transaction, AI-enriched data analysis has now become essential to customer engagement success.

Yet, one in four marketing, commerce and supply chain leaders admit that there is simply not enough time, budget or patience to unlock all of data’s potential, notes a new report from the CMO Council and IBM Watson Customer Engagement, Doing More with Data: Discovering Data-Accelerated Revenue Traction.

According to a new CMO Council survey of 165 senior executives, 78 percent are looking to implement tools enriched and driven by Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the next 12 months. Not only are these executives committing to AI, 33 percent of those who will implement AI believe it will be the solution that delivers the greatest impact on operations and customer engagement.

This turn to AI is not surprising considering the issues across data accessibility and quality that plague the organization’s ability to do much more with the data being amassed across systems. Thirty-seven percent of all executives surveyed feel that the current state of data accessibility is “hit or miss” at best, limited by selective connections across functions, systems and platforms. Once data is accessed, executives are further pressed to identify usable data as 39 percent of executives admit that data is often incomplete or only partially integrated across systems.

The most important internal data sources by function:

AI’s catalyzing role in harvesting and unifying engagement data

Among the top data issues executives highlight in the study:

  • 68 percent of leaders admit that second and third party data is only partially or barely integrated into current data systems, providing an incomplete view of a connected customer’s relationship with a product or brand
  • Dark data, defined for this study as unstructured, untagged and untapped data that has typically not been analyzed or processed, has frustrated stakeholders who are struggling to turn this data into actionable intelligence. Some 36 percent of respondents have yet to even tackle the issue of dark data while 30 percent admit that this valuable yet inaccessible data has emphasized how much the organization collects…but how little it actually uses.
  • Instead of streamlining operations, data has forced teams to spend massive amounts of time managing, manipulating or manually exporting and importing spreadsheets and reports. Other operational black holes of mundane tasks include content management and tagging (a time drain for 66 percent of respondents), journey mapping (41 percent) and forecasting (56 percent)

“The question is not if data is important for any organization with customers…it is if the ability to do more with that data will mean the difference between engagement, profitability and success,” noted Liz Miller, SVP of marketing at the CMO Council, in a news release. “Each of the functions we surveyed have their own lens that colors and enhances their view into the organization’s data: Marketing, Supply Chain and Commerce will all interpret the subtle shadows and light differently, but in the end, they need to be looking at the same picture.”

The biggest obstacles to extracting value from internal data assets:

AI’s catalyzing role in harvesting and unifying engagement data

While the disparate state of data has revealed gaps in both talent and technology, it is actually third “T” that has been most elusive: Time

Some 45 percent say that there are just not enough hours in the day to address all the transformation projects that are needed to activate data. But this is the exact issue that many executives hope new tools like AI can address and resolve, leveraging tools to ingest, analyze and recommend action in real-time, regardless of platform channel or functional owner.

Data for the study was compiled through an online survey in the second quarter of 2018. 165 executives completed the 20-question online audit, with 44 percent of respondents holding marketing roles, 24 percent from supply chain and operations, and 19 percent from commerce. Thirty-six percent of respondents hail from organizations with over $1 billion USD annual revenue. Respondents represent a multitude of primarily consumer-facing industries including retail (11 percent), consumer packaged goods (8 percent), manufacturing and consumer durables (9 percent) and media & entertainment (9 percent). Some 43 percent of respondents are with organizations with a hybrid (BtoBtoC) selling model, with 22 percent selling exclusively direct to the consumer.

Highlights include:

  • Technologies on the 12-month roadmap and the potential roadblocks to implementation and deployment success
  • Key data sources across the organization currently part of the customer data value chain, and which sources of intelligence are just out of reach, yet critical to engagement success
  • Ownership roles and key opportunities for collaboration across key engagement stakeholders
  • Strategies to ensure cross functional participation in the data value chain, including measures and metrics that define the impact of data application and utilization
  • Success or failures of technologies and platforms already deployed to aggregate, manage and analyze data across the organization

Download the full report here.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter