As disruptive as the pandemic has been for CMOs, their optimism remains high about the future of marketing analytics. That was one of the main conclusions of Gartner’s annual study, a global IT service management firm. The most recent survey included more than 400 global marketing leaders.
Of those polled, 44 percent told Gartner that they’re looking forward to making significant progress in their business goals by expanding their analytics team and capabilities over the next two years. Only 18 percent were predicting smaller teams, mostly due to automation, while 73 percent added that they were also planning to increase their investment in analytics over the next year.
COVID-19 has created a challenge for CMOs seeking to expand their analytics staff. Most, if not all, teams are currently working remotely to keep their jobs and trying to attract skilled help now will likely be more difficult and test HR recruiting skills.
And of those CMOs who anticipate expanding their analytics teams, about half felt the primary justification and rationale was that sound analytics would play a major role in driving successful outcomes in the future. Against this backdrop of optimism, Gartner discovered several challenges.
More than a quarter (26 percent) of respondents admitted to Gartner that they haven’t successfully reached the level of influence they had expected through analytic marketing. Since automation has freed up staff from previous duties such as generating dashboards and reports, marketing analytics teams must take advantage of that by being strategic partners to their CMOs instead of data managers.
Gartner observed the shift in automation as well. Nearly half (43 percent) of respondents said their reporting needs were nearly always met by automated dashboards. That percentage will grow even higher with the advances in AI and machine learning capabilities. In fact, Gartner predicted that by 2025 half of data scientist activities will be automated by AI.
Further evidence that the analytics team must adapt was revealed when 79 percent of those surveyed said they anticipate having CDP (customer data platform) deployed within the next three years. While CDP will automate profile unification and first-party data collection, Gartner suggested that companies seeking complex omnichannel strategies will see a greater performance by investments that translate large volumes of data into actionable insights.
Also identified in the study was the opportunity for brands to develop new skills, including using digital pr among analytic team members to complement what’s already automated and to expand their reach. Skills that would help bridge the gap between strategy development, data, and marketing execution will give the team more depth and credibility. Some suggested areas to enhance the team’s influence include advanced modeling, persuasive communication, influencer marketing and consultation.
Despite their optimistic findings, Gartner predicted that 60 percent of CMOs would reduce the size of their marketing analytics staff by 2023 due to failed and promised improvements. Two things might help delay or prevent this. The first is the investment of time and money into arming the analytics team with the skills and resources that make and demonstrate a difference in ROI and where they have a greater influence at the table and revenue. The second is by prioritizing analytics investments in areas where the team undergoes the greatest realized gaps in importance instead of usefulness.