q Why data should be marketing’s best friend - Business Reporter

Data can help give firms insight into what is going on in markets. How does one of the world’s biggest tech companies use it?

If companies want to stay competitive, they need to transform digitally and use data to gain an insight into their target markets.

Scott Allen, Global Marketing Development & Strategy Director at Microsoft, thinks data is especially important for marketing departments, as it allows them to gain an understanding of the customer. “Data is the fuel of digital transformation,” he says. “It has become more pervasive, more open and it is important if you are going to be effective in marketing. Now you can pull different data sources and get a whole list of insights around an activity, an event or a campaign that you are running. That allows us to get much deeper insight and make better decisions moving forward.”

Allen explains a lot of marketing departments return from events to then analyse their return on investment. Although this is important, he says, he also points out that they should be using their data to determine customer patterns and target these people at the event itself.

The new muscle in marketing is data analytics, says Allen, and it is an area in which Microsoft has been investing heavily. “I would rather hire an extra analytics and insight person than maybe go to one or two extra events a year,” he explains. “Those people will give me insight which will make us more effective, and ultimately help me drive better ROI.”

But employing someone good at studying data and analysing it is not the be all and end all. “You also have to bring into the equation [the fact] that this person will understand the business that you are in as well,” he said. “I am looking for someone that is not just great at the analytical side of the data, but also have some business commerciality about them as well. If they analyse data they have to know how it is going to help with this business objective, or this product strategy, or this customer pain point.”

According to Allen, the future of marketing is all about insight and by hiring data scientists who are also business savvy will enable firms to get the most out of their customer data.

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