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It’s Not Just You, Everybody’s Struggling With Data and Personalized Customer Engagement

Omar Akhtar
Young businessman with steam from his ears

Just in case you’re feeling bad about not fully using data and technology to create personalized customer experiences, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re part of the majority.

Results from a recent survey by CMO Council and Pegasystems show that most marketers still lack confidence in their ability to utilize data in predicting customer journeys, personalizing content or fully understanding the consumer lifecycle.

Chasing the ‘360-degree’ view

The much vaunted ‘360-degree’ view of the customer continued to exist only in for most marketers. Out of the 150 respondents surveyed across North America and Europe, only 3% said all sources of customer insight across their organization were completely aligned and integrated. The overwhelming majority (46%) said data from each stream is collected analyzed separately.

However, as I outlined in my research report, The Customer Experience Cloud, integrating every single source of data about a customer from across the entire organization isn’t just costly and a drain on IT resources, it’s ultimately not necessary for delivering a great personalized experience. Marketers need to identify the few data points that are most relevant to the customer experience they want to provide and focus instead on aligning and integrating those. A 180-degree or even 90-degree view of the customer will deliver great results, rather than waiting for a massive and costly 360-degree view.

“Your crystal ball ain’t so crystal clear”

I doubt the Beastie Boys would appreciate me using their lyrics to describe predictive intelligence for marketers, but if the shoe fits…

Only 3% of marketers said they had “excellent levels of understanding, insight and predictive knowledge about how the customer will react to experiences and engagements.” 41% said they had great analytics for past performance, but those did little to help light the way ahead, and 23% said predictive intelligence only helped with forecasting broader trends and not with actionable insights for individual customers.

For all the excitement around using Big Data to predict what will impact the customer, these numbers show that adoption of both the technology and practice of data-driven experiences is slow. Part of the reason is that we still rely mostly on humans to make the judgement call for what works in a campaign, rather than the software. And marketing departments simply can’t hire enough data scientists to cope with the reams and reams of customer data we’re now able to ingest. As the software gets better, and more intuitive to use, we can expect to see marketers get more comfortable playing with and mastering this type of technology, but it'll be a while before that happens.

So there you have it. The harmonious deployment and integration of predictive analytics, real-time insights, 360-degree customer views, customization and personalization is all theoretical for most companies. That’s not to say that it’s not worth pursuing, or that its rewards aren’t real. But for now, it’s clear that complex data-driven customer engagement is still in its infancy, and not the widely accepted practice most tech/marketing conference would have you believe.