Rätt Data i Rätt Kontext

businessman hand holding colorful transparent glass cubic

Introduktion till nätverket Digital CMO

Av Peter Johansson

Digitaliseringen har gett marknadsföringen tillgång till mätbara data och drivit branschen ljusår framåt. Men det ligger en utmaning i tolkandet av dessa data. En utmaning som nya nätverket Digital CMO har tagit sig an.

Reklambranschen är en av de branscher som anammat digitaliseringen på mesta sätt. Idag har reklambranschen inte bara en uppsjö nya digitala kanaler att rulla ut sina budskap via, de kan även bygga sina kampanjer och mäta deras resultat med en precision som snuddar vid individnivå.

Det varma mottagandet av digitaliseringen kommer av naturliga skäl: Det datadrivna tankesättet är en grundstomme i marknadsföringen. Att använda kunddata som verktyg för att skapa relevanta budskap är vad jobbet går ut på, så att säga.

– Data som styrmedel för kommunikation är något som alltid legat naturligt för marknadsförare. Man har ju alltid jobbat med att ta fram sina målgrupper, definiera vem man ska prata med, i vilket sammanhang och sedan tajma det, säger Elisabeth Bitsch-Christensen, nätverksledare för Stockholmskretsens nystartade nätverk Digital CMO.

Inte bara data, data, data

Det gäller dock att inte stirra sig blind på siffrorna. Det finns otroligt många stand-alone verktyg som alla på sitt sätt utlovar Utopia. Men det räcker inte med data på ett pie-diagram som visar vad som har hänt. Det verkliga värdet av dina data kommer först när de tolkas utifrån ett relevant sammanhang. Som den amerikanska tidsskriften Forbes beskrev det när de nyligen vände på statistikern W. Edwards Deming klassiska citat ”without data, you are just another person with an opinion”


”Without an opinion, you are just another person with Data”.

– Vad vi behöver är system som sätter detta i perspektiv, som ger bakgrund och kontext för den data som visas, och som lägger till aspekter som mänskligt beteende, makro- och mikroekonomiska faktorer och disruption. Vi behöver skapa insikt av data och applicera det till företagets utveckling och mål, säger Elisabeth Bitsch-Christensen.

Hur kan nätverket hjälpa till?

– Det finns otroligt många kloka människor i Stockholm och Sverige som har tagit till sig detta tankesätt från den ena eller andra vinklingen, och dessa människor behöver ett forum där det kan möta kolleger och stakeholders.

Därför har hon startat nätverket Digital CMO. En första träff hölls i september och ytterligare tre träffar är spikade under hösten. Närmast, den 7 november, fördjupar sig nätverket på affärsnyttan med beteendedata. Elisabeth Bitsch-Christensen har bjudit in Mikael Karlsson från Dagens Analys och Andreas Quensel, analyschef på Expressen.

– Vi kommer att bjuda in föreläsare, och själva berätta om våra erfarenheter. Vi tittar på trender och fördjupar oss i rapporter. Vi kommer att kommer att ha kul också, det är en viktig del av marknadsförarnas vardag, avslutar Elisabeth Bitsch-Christensen.

Creating your own pathways through the cloud

Companies like Microsoft have many types of customers, but by embracing cloud they have multiplied their impact on IT’s everyday dilemma – the rogue customer.

Meet the customer where the customer is – a truism pervasive to sales and marketing speak over the past few years – is now also the overall motto where IT meets business.

James Staten, Chief Strategist Cloud and Enterprise at Microsoft, spent a few days in Stockholm at IP Expo Nordic  and a few minutes with me on the balcony overlooking the trade show floor. Just off the stage speaking about the end of the era of IaaS we were looking at the specifics behind his statement:

“Hybrid Cloud is the future and Microsoft will continue to invest in the dynamic interchange and complexity of public cloud and on premise computing.”

The Microsoft Cloud offers customers a global infrastructure with 30 available, and 36 announced, datacenter regions. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella just confirmed this commitment on Oct 3, 2016 by adding several European countries to the list of countries hosting or acting as hubs for their datacentres. And by introducing a novel concept where access to customer data is controlled locally through a trustee – T-Systems International in Germany. Thus addressing the continuous resistence to placing and handling data outside of your jurisdiction which is particularly fierce in Germany.

The dilemma of empowerment and control

In 2010 we could still put everything into boxes and linear progression charts


This linear layered view of computing vs cloud as illustrated by industry expert R Wang in 2010 was a nice illustration of where the -as-a-Service had disrupted traditional IT – but this no longer applies: It is being disrupted by the citizens=users themselves.

“Just about 15% of the world’s developers have the highest level of skills required to build advanced and full scale deployments on Iaas (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) but there are 10 times as many developers who have excellent basic coding skills in various languages who are creating business value for the enterprise,” James Staten explains. “If you then consider that there are 80 times as many people in the world who can code and deploy to a selected cloud platform, there is a nightmare scenario out there from the IT Operations perspective which can inhibit innovation and growth.”

James Staten is a visionary. As a former Gartner and Forrester Analyst   and ex-CMO he is an expert at connecting the dots and creating a cohesive narrative.

To understand the reason why Microsoft believes in the hybrid cloud and is leaving the focus on -aaS combinations, you need to understand who your customers are and under which assumptions they operate.


Historically, IT called the shots when business needs were met in the enterprise. And even structure lovers like myself, can see that what the architecture of today’s large enterprises mostly resembles is a maze. But with today’s tools at their fingertips, customers want to do their own thing. And the challenge is on the IT management to keep it safe and secure despite everyone going rogue on them.

When basically everyone can or can learn to code, or at least subscribe to cloud based business process applications they could deploy themselves, the infrastructure has been disrupted by user behaviour. Just like a path created by people simply trying to find an easier way.

James Staten feels that if you support the developers by providing them with the tools they feel comfortable with as they navigate safely in the Cloud, you are also helping IT to stay in control of their infrastructure and protect their investement in existing platforms and processes. This is where among others the Microsoft Azure Security Center wants to help  IT managers sleep at night.

If we want to achieve true developer empowerment in this next generation of cloud, we have to encourage more coders to be productive with their existing skills. We can do this by letting them program with the languages they want to use — and are most appropriate to the type of app they are building — giving them reliable and consistent access to as broad a set of services as possible, and doing this in such a way that leverages open source and open standards. You want their processes to be painless and intuitive to encourage productivity and be applicable across the needs and services that your business operates and leverage where your customers are when they want you there. (Source: Geek.ly “Cloud Empowerment should not stop at highly skilled developers” by James Staten)

Star struck

When you meet people like that, who have visions that reach beyond and above, you should always remember that they are people who want to make the world a better place – in this case, James Staten even held my phone when we took the img_0928traditional SpeakerSelfie – and I am still slightly shaken by the encounter.

Hope to meet again soon at another conference somewhere in the universe to continue our conversation.






Oh, and if you would like to see what a rogue customer can look like, here’s one. (Photo courtesy of Miroslav Trzil)

< Disclaimer> Image has no connection to the interview topic or person interviewed.


What really happened at IPExpo Nordic Sept 2016

Cloud or not Cloud is no longer a discussion we need to have at IT trade shows – for most companies today, it’s by default. The discussion is not about the technology platform, it revolves around the transformation which cloud has enabled.

IP Expo is a trade show  on Cloud and Infrastructure, Cyber Security, Datacentre, Data Analytics and Developers. Vendors use it as a platform to show off new technology, and delegates to educate themselves with training sessions and workshops – and some stellar keynotes. It’s held held annually in the UK, but this year for the first time in Stockholm as a pan-Nordic event.

Overall, there was a gap between the vendors’ view of the IT shop floor and how we work, and the visions and experiences of the  Nordic IT professionals listening to thshowflooreir pitches.


Among the 52 exhibitors, there very few were outside the box, so to speak. Mostly, they were addressing singular IT challenges such as cyber security, infrastructure or offering access to the “Cloud” ( eh, what!?).  I am not saying it’s not important, just saying that we need to maintain a broader perspective.


You can check out some of the exhibitors and their messages and posts on the IP Expo Nordic Facebook page

Transform – don’t wait for digital, it’s already here. And bring your own lunch

Of course, as the conference program is very congested – no scheduled lunch or coffee break (a NO-NO in Sweden, organizers!) – you cannot possibly get the complete picture if you are not a machine and can sustain yourself on battery energy alone. So naturally, I did not see all the aspects of the messaging and content delivered at the sessions, but delegates I spoke with agreed that from their perspective there was really very little news. As a learning experience, it did not quite deliver.

Out of 81 speakers, only 9 were women (!)

The non-profit organisation Womengineer with their programs to engage large corporations in empowering more women in engineering both in education, trainee programs and in careers was given a small corner on the trade show. Luckily, they also had their own session which was extremely well attended, despite the more glamourous main programme in the auditoriums. Similar to the worldwide efforts to inspire girls to code, Womengineer holds Introduce a Girl to Engineering Days – mark your calendars for the next event on March 17, 2017.

Aroshine Munasinghe, Head of Business Relations at Womengineer and Jenny Stenström, blogger had checked out the gender balance  in the conference program – and including themselves, there were 9 female presenters out of 81. Quite unusual for a high profile conference in Sweden.

And I encountered many professional women in the various sessions.


Barbará and Carla from Lisbon, Portugal and were extremely satisfied with the content of the sessions and the high technical standard of many of the presenters. Among their personal highlights was Susanne Fuglsang in the Digital Transformation Panel who literally took center stage in challenging a lot of preconceptions on what digital susannefuglsangtransformation is about.

 We should stop speaking about digital transformation – it has already happened. We should focus on making the transformation a strategic objective in top management and more importantly middle management where resistence to change is prevalent.

(Susanne Fuglsang, Executive Producer, Another Tomorrow)


Len Padilla of NTT echoed this very well in his Digital Transformation session tugged away in the basement and coinciding with Trend Guru Alexander Bard’s glamourous keynote. Happy to say, we were at least 25-30 people who were brave enough to go against the celebrity flow and took some practical advice in the dungeon, as Len called it.

Not only do you need to involve more levels of your organisation in the process, you need to enable those managers who’s job it is to “keep the lights on”. They are the least willing to take risks, so to truly transform you must learn to encourage and reward risk taking and the consequent potential failure. (Len Padilla, NTT)

Smarter citizens – not devices

What IPExpo Nordic showed, was the obvious focus these large players and other software vendors have on the Nordics as a market, and the effort they are making to gain momentum with their key messages.

The keynotes from Microsoft, IBM and Amazon Web Services were all delivered by some of the company’s top speakers and all on what PR professionals call “on message”.  Gleefully interrupted by a worldclass presentation on how the CIO of the City of Stockholm, Ann Hellenius, and her team will make Stockholm the world’s smartest city.

How? Not by adding infrastructure: We have that already with Fiber Optics Bands reaching 30 times around the globe covering the greater Stockholm area.

No, by defining a smart city as the merger of human, financial and technological interactions to achieve the highest quality of life and the best environment for business. The main focus here is the interaction between citizens and services, between human and machine.


The best digitalisation is when you do not notice that it’s there (Ann Hellenius, Stockholm City CIO)

Making sense of the data – the Big data

IBM’s visionary Rashik Parmar  addresses similar thoughts on the concept of smarter cities– but at IP Expo Nordic, illustrating that the focus of the presentations was not on the vision but on the product, he showcased IBM’s cognitive intelligence Watson instead.

(The program also had an encounter with Furhat the Robot Head, but alas, Furhat and I are yet to meet in person, so to speak).

The potential of this technology of course is enormous, and the Nordic audience, albeit not new to the concept, can relate to the potential of using cognitive intelligence to make the world a better place.

Some of us covering IT innovation, gadgets and business opportunities combined, are always looking for the killer app. For Watson and alike there are many, and Rashik Parmar introduced just one: using Watson analytics to “listen” for cracked wheels on long distance trains.

This is a really important job that used to be a manual one, with a railroad worker hitting with a hammer on each and every wheel at each stop to listen for cracks. According to Rashik Parmar, the ability to filter out everything but the sound defining a crack is unique to the Watson technology – the sheer amount of data involved and the processing required to make this a seamless process and not create delays is unique (at this stage) to IBM’s technology. And this saves lives.

No more -aaS abbreviations, let’s all code

Microsoft’s James Staten, Chief Strategist Cloud and Enterprise Division (The Era of IaaS is Coming to an End) warmly enthused about the hybrid cloud being the future and where Microsoft will continue to invest heavily: The combination of on premise computing and public cloud as a strategy.


What Microsoft has probably realised is that they need a broader audience for their products and concepts in order to meet today’s real customers – the so-called citizen developers  as defined by Gartner.

Basically, it means that end users are taking over the world of software applications because everyone today can learn to and uses code. And Microsoft wants to help IT departments stay in control via Azure Security Center, among other concepts. Read more on the visions and strategies for Cloud in my exclusive interview with James Staten in my next blog post due in a few days.

Listening to Amazon Web Services Technical Evangelist Danilo Poccia was perhaps not as inspiring for leaps of thought, but all the same very useful and constructive. The Amazon Journey to the Cloud was just that – his step by step introduction to and presentation of the various services in the Amazon Web Services portfolio addressing today’s needs among developers and IT departments.


The journey as a strategy is what captured the interest of one of the delegates I asked right after the lights were turned on. Per Nordahl, IT Strategy Manager at Telia, found that Amazon could focus more on the journey when walking through the services as a case – many larger enterprises can relate to this story of digital transformation.


What is innovation – can we capture this elusive pimpernell

Amazon defines innovation as (f = mechanism + culture).

Unfortunately I could not reach Danilo Poccia to ask how to attach some real metrics to this. But I think an equation like that could help many businesses quantify and qualify their rate of innovation ultimately to get more senior management buy-in for those crazy ideas we all know we need to stay ahead of the game in a digital world.

The Swedish Model – Or The Importance of being “Lagom”

Lagom is the ticket to successful integration in Sweden

Where else in the world can friend and foe in business and politics exchange their views in an inclusive, open and collaborative setting where everyone equally gets their say, and audiences engage and contribute – and criticise. Disciplined. Cilivized. Respectful. – Getting together on an island to debate everything from ethics to politics. This was Almedalen Week July 2016

Who gets to lead? Whoever shouts the loudest?

Watching the rallies from the US presidential elections always makes me wonder what happened to politics being the voice of the people. There really isn’t much room for debate or separate opinions. It is all about who shouts the loudest, who creates the best TV broadcast friendly setting with American flags, banners or sound bites on signs lifted high by a religiously enchanted audience. They all agree at a rally. Of course they do – they are handpicked to do so, I assume. And the sound bites are carefully crafted, and really not anybody’s opinion. I learned that from the documentary The War Room  on Bill Clinton’s election campaign.

ST. LOUIS, UNITED STATES: Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton (L) waves to supporters as he holds the hand of his wife Hillary, 22 July, 1992 after speaking at a rally. St. Louis was the last stop on the Clinton-Gore campaign's bus tour. The crowd was estimated at 40,000. (Photo credit should read TIM CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton (L) waves to supporters as he holds the hand of his wife Hillary, 22 July, 1992 after speaking at a rally. (Photo TIM CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)


Feministisk Initiativ

Gudrun Schyman, leader of the Swedish Feminist Party, at a meeting in Almedalen rebuking the speech given by Prime Minister Löfven earlier – with facts, arguments and civility (Photo by the author)









In Almedalen on the Swedish island of Gotland, at this annual gathering of everybody who is anybody (and a few nobodies like me) in Swedish society, it appears we all agree despite disagreeing strongly.

It’s just that nobody is shouting. If you do, your message simply won’t be respected. You can say things with emphasis, you can criticize, you can argue, you can disagree. But you let your opponent finish their sentence, you do not raise your voice or shout insults. Everybody is allowed to be there. Everybody is entitled to their opinion. They are not your mortal enemy, they are just different.

It’s called diversity. It’s called freedom of speech. It’s just lagom.

There is no translation for the word lagom – it is a state of mind, a way to view life and human interactions. And relationships. And the weather. What is lagom?

Picture1An urban myth claims that the amount of mead in a viking drinking cup being passed around a group of warriors must be “lagom” – as in be enough for the entire team. “Lag” means team in Swedish. Pass it around the entire team for everyone to have a sip.



Raised to be lagom

The Swedish Board of School Education  states that in 2015, 94% of all children aged 4-5 attended municipal kindergarden/daycare. If you dive deeper, you realize that an impressive 88.4% of all children living in Sweden with immigrant parents attended these kindergardens. And they are all brought up with the concept of lagom as a way of life and human interaction. This is integration at it’s best.

On a lighter note, here’s a nice review of the differences between a Swedish boyfriend brought up along those principles, and what you could experience with others.

And it’s not a new phenomenon – it’s an integral part of the Swedish welfare state where the decade long focus on gender equality in the home and in the workplace has meant that generations of Swedes today setting the tone and the agenda in business, politics and academia were brought up to be lagom. Brought up to be considerate, attentive and inclusive.

It’s not that easy to be lagom

I am an immigrant myself, coming from Germany, then Denmark and now Sweden. And these are three entirely different cultures in terms of human interaction and behaviour. I will never really be part of this tribe; my values may be to be both considerate, attentive and inclusive – but I am certainly not lagom.

It’s an acquired trait, you restrain yourself from voicing disagreement, you avoid standing out in confrontative situations and you must not take the last cookie on the platter. I can do neither.

But I often meet immigrants and children of immigrants who are mastering the skill and have become part of the tribe in a way I may never be. Amazingly enough, being lagom also meant that when I joined Refugees Welcome Stockholm at Almedalen last week to quietly, orderly walk around in my pink vest, I was stopped by locals and organisations and thanked for our efforts.

Our purpose there was not to shout – it was to remind politicians, opinion makers and media of the fact that these people need help, not rejection.Karin

Karin, a police volonteer from the hectic days of autumn 2015 at the Stockholm Central Train Station stopped me in my pink vest to thank Refugees Welcome Stockholm for continuing our efforts





Rosa Stationen – A Refugees Welcome Stockholm integration project

35,000 people came to the Almedalen Week this year in July. That is as many people as Refugees Welcome Stockholm (RWS) received and assisted during the influx of refugees in the autumn months of 2015.

In the autumn and winter of 2015, local Stockholmers, passers by, volonteers from help organisations, young and old rallied at the Stockholm Central Train station to help these people not just with the bare necessities of life but into a new and meaningful existence. It takes a lot more than food, shelter and clothing.

Read more about some of their fates here:  When disruption becomes tangible – stories from a train station. Europe September 2015.


RWS created Rosa Stationen  a meeting place, where the volunteers who were persevering at the train station, continue their involvement by exemplifying and teaching refugees how a Swede respects and values you and your opinion.

It’s not really a survival technique for refugees – being lagom

Sometimes it is difficult to convey to these people, because the trauma and the fact that they survived their perilous journeys and made it this far, is not because they were lagom in anything.

It’s more likely that they had to be fierce, persistent, loud. It is very plausible that these qualities, which ensured their survival, are also the ones who can obstruct a successful integration. A Swede brought up on these ideals has difficulties interacting with and understanding behaviour as “un-lagom” as this. Being “un-lagom” myself, I can relate.

The focus of the newly arrived is on finding jobs to learn the “Swedish Way” which is so much more than learning the language. It will be a long journey for them, but many of the volunteers at RWS have made similar journeys themselves, as children or more recently as young adults.

And they are the most successful, most warmhearted, most outstanding human beings I have ever met. Despite being just lagom.

  • If you would like to learn more about the Refugees Welcome Stockholm integration activities, take a look at the Refugees Welcome Stockholm Website , follow us on Twitter or join our Facebook group
  • The next big project is #GeBarnenAndrum (Create a Safe Haven for the children). You can volunteer or support the effort with a donation

It is through the children we ensure the future and they are the ones who need a safe haven the most.




Make your Market Data Speak – and become a sales hero

Let’s all agree: Marketing is a strategic and mission critical function in any business. But unfortunately, this is rarely recognized. To prove your value as a marketer, show that your marketing investment supports the business.


The ongoing discussion about ROI and metrics is sidelining the key issue: It’s no longer enough to measure number of leads generated in push-campaigns, you need to measure engagement and generate quality behavioral data. Marketing contributes to business strategy and growth. And you – the marketing professional – can become a hero for the sales organization by turning the data into valuable insights.

What we as modern marketers need to do is to focus on the business and how marketing can be even more successful through collecting the right data to work smarter and engage the right audience. For me, it’s always been about the data. And luckily for me – it’s available from just about everywhere. Marketers need to take the front seat in the digital era and learn why and how data driven decisions make a difference for marketing impact.

“Customers today expect—and demand—a seamless and relevant experience,” says Teradata. “They have grown accustomed to marketers’ knowledge of their preferences and anticipation of their needs. Fractured or conflicting messages from a brand make marketers seem unorganized and annoy customers, sometimes even driving them away.”

The topic of data and marketing is making it’s way into the board room, and decision makers require market and customer centric data to guide them.

Johanna Lindskog Lindell, a Swedish data strategist and PR professional, explains:

“Just like your company, your customers leave a digital trace. Customers expect you to know and understand their interests and preferences. With each interaction between you and your customers, they become more and more open and transparent exposing their behaviour and interests. Make use of these insights so that they can become the building blocks of your business.”

Easier said than done

In his blog in June, 2015 Jonathan Buckley of Qubole provides some useful insight on what it takes to create a datadriven culture in the enterprise, emphasising the need for both visionaries, tools and accountability in the process. But not all of us are sitting at the big round table, and for marketing to take a seat where visions turn into strategy, there is a both bottoms up and top down approach.

Johanna is a major influencer in the Swedish PR-world. In her regular blog on Resumé, published by Bonnier Business Media (in Swedish) she elaborates on how to build a datadriven strategy that keeps you out of trouble and gets you closer to the board room when decisions are made:

  1. Consolidate your data

Combine the data available in your organisation to drive strategic decisions, understand your customers and the perception of your brand. To strengthen your brand, you need to understand your position in the market…

  1. Listen

Success depends on how well you identify and understand your customers by letting their data speak to you. It’s not just about your brand and what you want to communicate. By listening you will understand what type of problems people want to solve, and what interests them. These insights are invaluable for your business.


  1. Develop strategic campaigns

By listening you will gain insights and understand what drives your customers, what their engagement is about and how they perceive your brand. Using this data you can create strategic activities which can be applied to your entire organisation.

  1. Optimise and improve, try and try again!

Optimise your campaigns as you go by interpreting the information shared by your customers, and stay focused on customer driven marketing. Most companies and most people want to see metrics after a certain time period. I prefer comparing data with yesterday’s data. Mostly to see how well I have succeeded, what I can optimise and what I can improve.

What’s a petabyte?

So what is datadriven marketing? It is the creation of value that supports business objectives and your strategy. And it’s really quite mind boggling, how much data we as marketers have access to.



In less than five years from today, experts predict that our annual data creation will reach nearly 45 trillion gigabytes, that’s 45 million petabytes. The human brain is estimated to store the equivalent of 2.5 petabytes of binary data. 2.5 versus 45 million petabytes.

You could also say that the available data in the world is more than what is stored in the brains of the entire population of – say – The Netherlands.

With all this data available to individuals, corporations, and governments, you will benefit hugely if you build your marketing strategy and execution on data.

When data is leveraged brilliantly, it can reveal highly useful patterns and trends. And you will find things to improve, not just in marketing but in other business functions as well.





Success is about balancing data, art and poetry

Some people – including many marketers – think data is dull and boring. I don’t. Data has poetry when you know how to look. To let it speak to you is  pure art; it will help you develop a successful datadriven strategy.



For a while now I have been struggling with definitions and perspectives on the enigma of datadriven marketing. There are so many different skills involved – and so many departmental functions that hold a stake. To understand the confusion, you might like to read my previous post What is Datadriven Marketing Even the dictionaries, let alone the stakeholdes themselves, are struggling with the term. From a marketing perspective, however, there is a clear purpose:

Datadriven marketing means capturing and analyzing data from the abundance of available transactions and interactions between you, your company and your market – and turning them into meaningful conversations that engage your audience.


Click here for more of these excellent cartoons.


Datadriven marketing is pretty straightforward

“This is what works: being clear about a Call to Action, knowing your audience, crafting content that’s got a story to it, measuring and analysing results and adjusting based on the data.” (Jim Rosenberg, Chief Communications Officer at Accion)

There are some key words in this statement which have evolved into separate – and rather hyped – marketing disciplines:

  • Know your audience – the hype word here is personalisation
  • Content with storytelling – the hype word is Content is King
  • Measuring and analysing results – the hype word is Business Intelligence

What perplexes me is that each of these components seem to be addressed separately depending on what is the hottest trend on the various expert forums and conferences aimed at marketers. Add the #InternetOfThings to the mix and it gets even more disassociated from the real business purpose of marketing.

Getting personal

What if marketers listened to their data before they applied it to a mailing list with names, company size and job title? Personal contact information provided over completed online forms tends to be incorrect, flimsy and incomplete. Often it is  contaminated in the mailing application by duplicates and record matching, and the risk of antagonizing the recipient is real.

Personalisation should not be about getting the name and job title right, it should be about getting personal to the extent that the timing, the message and the format is relevant to the person receiving the communication.

Get aligned – or perish

What if marketers worked their way backwards from the business objectives to the content that was needed and embraced by the sales organisation to achieve them?

Studies show that despite “Content is King”, many sales teams do not fully utilize these carefully drafted assets:

Only 9 percent of content created in enterprise marketing departments is viewed more than five times by the sales department, according to Docurated’s latest State of Sales Enablement report.

Apart from an apparent lack of strategy around content creation, marketing and sales teams are not communicating and appear to be creating content in silos. Read more here.

How to turn metrics and analyses into actionable insights

The good news is that organizations are collecting and creating more data, but they also have better analytics tools and techniques available. The bad news is that there can be too much of a good thing. Paul Blasé from PriceWaterhouseCoopers explains it like this:

“For example, they (…the senior management…) can debate, ‘well why did the market grow at this rate when I assumed [it would grow] at this rate; or why did this competitor gain share versus me, when I assumed the opposite would happen because I dropped my price? It’s about combining the intuition and the experience with the science of data analytics together to help an executive team make better decisions, and that’s where we’re seeing traction.”

The challenge is to allow the poetry to enter the discussion – expressed by Blasé as combining intuition with experience. Because what characterises these questions is that executives tend to address historical data with lagging indicators and based on KPIs and other metrics they defined not from insights they need, but from data that is available to them within the scope of the reporting and analytics tools that they currently use.

The Harvard Business Review conducted an interesting study among graduates who were in positions where the focus was on researching competitive intelligence. And concluded that only half of the companies actually use the competitive intelligence that they collect.

Why? Because when decisions are made, he or she who shouts the loudest, normally defines the game. So if data is collected and interpreted only to reconfirm an assumption or justify a strategy already defined, or if the actual data provides insights that are countering the loudest shouter, management may end up making some very bad decisions. But you can turn it around – if you listen and understand what the data tells you, successful decisions will help your business and your career. One of the examples from the Harvard Business Review study is from a pharmaceutical company that used the data to make business related decisions:

A common theme across industries was the smart reallocation of resources. One analyst told us that their company had stopped development on a project that was consuming lots of local resources after the analysis indicated it wouldn’t be effective. They then re-applied those resources to an area with true growth potential — that area is now starting to take off. In a different company, an analysis led to the cancellation of an extremely high-risk R&D program. (Benjamin Gilad, Leonard M. Fuld, Harvard Business Review Jan 28, 2016)

Read more about why organizations struggle to get data cultures right in this article by David Weldon from Information Management.


From chaos to order

In the second half of this video  the SBI (Sales Benchmark Index) Revenue Growth Maturity Model defines the evolutionary flow from data strategy chaos to order:

  1. Chaos – the organisation has a corporate data strategy but it is not translated into a functional direction.
  2. Defined – there is both a corporate and functional strategy, but they are not implemented.
  3. Implemented – now, the strategies for both corporate and functions are implemented but remain separate entities and not aligned.
  4. Managed – now we have aligned the strategies to run the organisation with a defined goal and actionable insights
  5. Predictable – aligned both internally within the organisation and including and integrating external data sources from the market.

According to SBI, 51% of US companies are still at level 1 – in a chaotic environment where strategy is neither communicated nor aligned with the business.

That is the pitfall that digital marketers must avoid – the disalignment of business objectives and marketing strategy.








Data whispering presidential elections

It’s interesting to find the correlations between social media data and unexpected results during major elections. The power of the crowd is growing.

I found an amazing data whisperer, Stephens-Davidowitz aka @seththoughts on Twitter – a NY Times opinion writer and former Google Scientist. And he alerted me to the real scoop of yesterday’s New Hampshire caucus:

The interesting part is not the fact that one or the other candidate is trending – it is the timing and context that makes it so remarkable. 

People appeared to be considering John Kasich and investigating what he stands for, only when the first primary result in the little town of Dixville Notch showed Kasich beating Donald Trump 3-2. New Hampshire residents started googling him. A lot. Take a look:



If you click on the link to the Google Trends comparison @seththoughts prepared when he started to notice the correlations, there is a clear spike where Google Searches on John Kasich increased dramatically right after the reports of the surprise win in the first result came in. It happened between 7 pm and 8.30 pm.

Can you predict election results with social media?

Of course, it’s never straight forward. This interesting paper by a group of computer scientists at Wellesley College ON THE PREDICTABILITY OF THE U.S. ELECTIONS THROUGH SEARCH VOLUME ACTIVITY concludes that Google Trends was not a good predictor of the outcome of the 2008 and 2010 elections. But the limitation of only focusing on one parameter – in this case Google Searches out of context and time – was clear to them even then:

Nevertheless, if there is a widespread belief among the journalists that G-trends have such a predictive power, it may not be long before it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, influencing voters’ decisions: reassuring and exciting some, while discouraging others from voting in pursuit of a lost battle.

Perhaps that is what happened on the night, when John Kasich became a plausible contester (and perhaps by many an alternative they had been hoping for) when he won the first published result from the tiny town of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire over Donald Trump.

Make the data speak – listen and engage when it really matters

Opinion polls seem to have a strong influence on how politicians formulate their campaigns and whether or not they believe they can win.

But with social media, there is a source much more reliable than disturbing phone calls during family dinners.

What candidates might consider, is to steer away from listening only to news anchors and sponsored social media posts and to engage with the crowd itself. In Iowa, Bernie Sanders’ campaigners went door knocking – the next step is to transform the knowledge gained into actionable political strategy. Whether the knowledge is collected in door-to-door conversations or social media conversations is less important than how it is incorporated to keep it relevant and appealing on the day it happens.

Because as the example of New Hampshire has shown, it’s all about timing.

Pros and Cons from other research: