Last week I attended a Marketing Analytics conference in Boston sponsored by iKnowtion. At a time when companies are cutting expenses, including staff and marketing budgets, iKnowtion is investing in their future. They are also engaging in a dialogue with the larger Marketing Analytics community through the conference and their blog. (In the interest of full disclosure, I know several people at iKnowtion but have never worked there.)
The conference began with a talk by Tom Davenport, the Author of Competing on Analytics with Jeanne G. Harris. He set the stage by providing examples of how companies recognize the importance of analytics but reminded us that marketing is still a combination of art and science. As the emphasis shifts more towards the science of marketing, we need to recognize that the “art” is still relevant. He further challenged us to move beyond reporting to provide more value and insight.
Next was a panel on driving business value featuring speakers from GM, CVS Pharmacy, and ConstantContact. Each speaker provided a brief case study of how analytics has helped their business. In one case, analytics changed the focus of the business. In another, it led to the rebalancing of product marketing. Finally, the rigors of “test, measure, and learn” enabled one company to optimize media effectiveness across channels.
After lunch there was a lively digital panel discussion around social media, the future of web-enabled communities and the challenges of measuring the impact of companies’ efforts in this space. Given the evolving nature of social media, it is no surprise that there were divergent opinions. I, for one, appreciated the candor and the healthy discussion that ensued. To quote Jane Austen, “My idea of good company…is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation.”
The conference wrapped up with a return to the theme of competing on analytics. This free flowing discussion touched upon a range of topics, including how to become a company that uses analytics for competitive advantage. Interestingly, one of the panelists thought that finding good talent was the biggest challenge we face. As a Marketing Analytics professional who hires and develops staff, I am in complete agreement. There is stiff competition for the best analytic staff and I have found it difficult to find technical competence coupled with business acumen. In fact, the discussion about finding, training and retaining analytic staff continued at the bar, after the conference formally ended.
iKnowtion has plans to hold the conference again next year and I encourage you to attend.