“The modern marketer needs to be able to understand data, to be able to experiment with data, to be able to move at a different pace and velocity and to learn and iterate,” says Alex Poulos, CMO at Crossbeam, who believes marketing teams are in the midst of a paradigm shift. “What we’re going to see more and more in modern marketing organizations is the importance of data literacy.”
Democratizing data access for marketing teams
Data has become the lifeblood of modern marketing, driving strategic decisions, campaign effectiveness, and customer experiences, with more and more businesses recognizing the importance of centralizing data and making it accessible to marketers. Traditionally, marketing teams have had to depend on other teams for access to the critical insights they needed to provide targeted, personalized experiences—which is still true for marketers in many organizations. This bottleneck often leads to delays in decision-making—and, notes Alex, missed opportunities.
“Often, for a go-to-market team to get access to data they must file a ticket to a data scientist team or a data engineer team, and then wait for two weeks to get a report or an insight or a chart, but by then the moment has passed,” he says. “ I think we're going to see an evolution with go-to-market teams owning their access to data and making decisions based on data more and more."
How do they do that? By “democratizing” data so that everyone in the business—from the operations team through to the sales team—has access to the information they need to make data-backed decisions quickly.
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The pitfalls of providing data access without data literacy
Making data accessible is just one piece of the puzzle. “The challenge if you're sitting in marketing or in sales or customer success, how do you operationalize that data? Many go-to-market teams don't have to get the data literacy or the data competency to start doing some things by themselves.”
A trap businesses can fall into is giving everyone access to the data, without ensuring they have the requisite skills to actually use it—which can create problems across the business. “You don't want to democratize data, and then have every team come up with a different interpretation of a metric, walk into a board meeting, and have five different metrics for your ARR or ACP calculated by other teams differently,” says Alex. “Do we ask someone to run a SQL query for you and then get the data back and then make decisions? Or is there a better way? And I think there is a better way, and we're seeing companies thinking about it the right way.”
That means that businesses should not only focus on democratizing access to the data but also driving data literacy to “make sure marketers have the ability to take actions based on that data”. Once they do, they can open up “amazing flexibility in the marketing team to start creating truly personalized experiences for [their] users.”
How data will shape the future of marketing leadership
This paradigm shift goes beyond enabling marketers to grab opportunities as they see them and double-down on personalization, says Alex. Data literacy also has the potential to open up new opportunities for marketers’ careers too, “I'm noticing that more and more CMOs come with a more data-heavy background versus just a brand-heavy background,” he says. “I think now, it’s data skills that will get people promoted to CMOs.”