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The CIO and CMO perspective on big data

Stephanie Overby | Aug. 6, 2014
CMOs now command more of the tech budget than any other executive outside of the CIO. With big data being one of the main drivers of technology spending, a strong relationship between IT and marketing is critical to business success.

At biotech company Biogen Idec, IT and marketing are exploring ways in which they can bring together wearable devices, patient relationship management and big data to understand not just the broad patient population, but the individual patient. "This can help us understand not only how patients treat their diseases differently, but also how they respond to treatment differently both physiologically and as a function of genetics," says Greg Meyers, Biogen Idec's Vice President of Information Technology. This is meaningful not only how we market our products by how we research both current and future therapies."

To do that, both marketing and IT must be clear about what each brings to the table. "In my view big data/advanced analytics is a three-legged stool," says Meyers, who also spent a good portion of his career in marketing. The first is math —l inear algebra, calculus, discrete math and statistics. IT and marketing must build such skills jointly. The second leg is computer science.  

"Many of the technologies now available to us like Hadoop/Map-Reduce and NoSQL databases are inaccessible without some hard-core coding," says Meyers. "These skills are often already in IT." The third is the contextual understanding of the business, "While IT is getting better at being embedded into the business, for a marketing project its crucial marketing, not IT, is clear on formulating the questions or hypotheses it is trying to uncover with analytics and what decisions will be made with the answers," Meyers says.

At Delaware North, IT makes sure all analytical capabilities work as advertised and provides the infrastructure, tools and technical acumen necessary for marketers to accomplish their big data an analytics goals and objectives, says CIO Kevin Quinlivan. But because it's such a large and diverse company — Delaware North has its own destination resorts and national parks in addition to TD Garden and the Kennedy Space Center destination, marketing and IT divide and conquer when it comes to look for new big data opportunities. "It's often the marketers out in the field looking for new and innovative ways to employ big data and analytics while IT continues to innovate the tools at the center of the organization," says Quinlivan.

Starting at the Finish
Today's enterprise is swimming in data that could enable marketing transformation, but transforming that data into knowledge has proven difficult. "Businesses need actionable insights across all channels," says Eddie Short, head of KPMG's Insights Labs. "These so called moments of truth' are critical in building the customer experience, and that means having the right data and predictive analytics to be prepared for key customer interactions that could lead to cross-sell, up-sell or just have a truly engaged conversation with your customer."


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