Mobilewalla recently had the opportunity to partner with Informa Connect on the “Data and the Next Decade – What to Expect and How to Prepare”. In it, we discussed how AI is changing our relationship with data, and how you can leverage it to drive real results for your business. We’ve all been spending at least the last decade collecting huge volumes of consumer data, but we continue to experience challenges when mining and connecting it to drive valuable, game-changing insights for our business. Well, AI is about to change all that.
As is often the case, some of the most compelling insights that came out of this webinar came from the attendees. In addition to sharing some of our knowledge on data and AI, we wanted people to be able to get a sense of where their peers stood, so we threw a few polling questions into the mix. The results were a bit surprising in some cases, and very validating in others. In short, we are all a long way from where we want and need to be with how we leverage data and AI.
With a geographically distributed audience that represented companies of all sizes and a variety of marketing and analytical roles, we had a great “think tank” to learn from.
Let’s take a look at the insights this data-minded audience revealed in our webinar:
Question #1: What is your maturity level around capturing and leveraging data?
We started with this simple question to find out how people felt they were doing capturing and managing data. And we tried to have a little fun with the answers. As you can see from the these results, pretty much everyone felt like they were doing an OK job with it right now:
What was interesting about this poll wasn’t that so many organizations felt like they were still trying to get their arms around managing their data, it’s that no one felt like they had really mastered it yet. In an era where data collection has become so pervasive, and the tools available to help you manage it are too numerous to count, it was surprising to see that there wasn’t a single organization who felt they had cracked the data management code yet.
The Takeaway: Clearly this is the goal that we are all striving for, and it would appear that many of us have a long way to go to get there. It’s so important that we do though, because “data driven organizations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers than non-data driven companies, 6 times as likely to retain their customers and 19 times more likely to be profitable” (McKinsey and Co.). Effective collection and management of data is a critical first step to reaching that Jedi knight status.
Question #2: What is your biggest challenge with data?
Next we wanted to understand what is causing some of the struggles that organizations are having with data. The responses for this were, not surprisingly, more distributed than the previous poll, though the elusive single customer view seemed to be a fairly common challenge.
The results of this polling question highlight a challenge that I’m honestly not too surprised to see. Teams often have a great grasp on the data that they own or have access to, but then things break down as they look at data owned and managed by other parts of the organization. There are so many unknowns – What can I get to? Is that data clean? Is it structured? Can I key and link it to get that single customer view? – which make it difficult to build the data strategy necessary to drive consumer engagement.
You have to start somewhere, so you should start with the data you own and can easily access. It is great to see that this is an area that teams have mastered. While many are challenged with combining data to create a single customer view – because it is really hard – that is the next area to focus on, as you look at combining data sources, both internal and external, you will need the ability to link and key the data to build that complete customer view.
Question #3: What is your maturity level around AI adoption?
Next we moved on to the topic of AI and again, tried to have some fun with the responses. Here we wanted to get an understanding of where people felt their organization stood from an AI maturity perspective; were they just getting started or were they already leveraging it and seeing some real business benefits?
I have to say, this one was really surprising for us. While we totally expected to see a good chunk of people select the Toddler stage, we didn’t expect it to be over 70% of the audience! And to have no one select the “OK, Boomer” stage? That was another surprise. Again, this is largely driven by the fact that AI has become so pervasive, it’s literally on every CTOs “to-do” list and yet we are still such a long way from feeling like we have arrived.
while we all hear that “AI is so pervasive” is that the reality? Probably not because, as this poll proves, the reality is that organizations of all sizes are continuing to struggle with adopting AI. The good news is many of the technologies we use every day are becoming more and more AI enabled, so we are in fact using it despite our own internal limitations. That said, our ability to apply AI techniques to the challenges that we all have as marketers – attract, retain and grow – is still very limited.
Question #4: What are your biggest challenges to AI adoption?
Finally, we asked the attendees to share their biggest challenges related to adopting AI. Not surprisingly, the responses here were similar to the data challenges in that they were fairly distributed.
The biggest challenge here? Internal skillset. Organizations are really, really struggling to find data science talent. The other really big challenge? Understanding how AI can help your organization. That likely goes not only for the data scientists who are using AI to drive insights, but also for the marketers and business line owners who are relying on AI to provide insights to inform strategy.
If you’re on the data side of the business, you understand this challenge all too well because you are likely having to do a lot of internal education and selling to get these kinds of projects approved. At the end of the day, AI is about making organizations smarter in what they do every day, with better information to make more informed decisions.
AI can help you with everything from acquisition to retention to attribution and beyond. The key to identifying the best use cases for your organization is really just identifying the data and knowledge gaps that your organization has and finding the right AI-enabled tool and techniques to help you fill that gap. But you will need to ensure you have the right team in place with the right skills and a clear understanding of what you can accomplish to be successful.
Effectively leveraging AI and data brings tremendous promise but many challenges. As we enter into this next decade, turning data into insights using AI/ML will be critical to the success of your marketing efforts. While it is easy to be overwhelmed by common barriers to entry, know you are not alone.