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Our iceberg is melting . Now where's that data scientist?

On the face of it, John Kotter’s seminal book “Our iceberg is melting” is a simple tale of a group of penguins who are scared about losing their home, their iceberg, and yes, even more scared of the changes that could entail. But through that simple story and their struggle for finding their new home, the story delivers a more powerful message that could be increasingly relevant for today’s companies as they search for their isolated Icebergs of Analytics that don’t melt.

The story and the cast of characters:

Fred, an unusually observant, curious and creative penguin. Or maybe a data scientist in a penguin’s disguise? Well, Fred, using his powers, observed that their iceberg, their home, was melting. Not one to just wait for his daily quota of squid, he spoke to one person in the leadership council who he felt would listen to him.

Enter Alice, one of the leaders of the colony, a practical and tough bird. Say our CMO of today's world. Of course Alice initially wondered if Fred was suffering from a personal crisis or if he missed his morning fish meal. But she did give him a patient hearing which rapidly changed to alarm when she saw for herself the data - the cracks and the fissures in their iceberg.

Alice brought Fred’s concern to the leadership council and here entered the other cast of characters in the book.

Louis – Formal colony leader, well-respected and yet conservative. Maybe the CEO or other senior leaders of any company, not just in a company of penguins?

NoNo- One of the colony leaders and negative influencer who kept trying to poke holes in Fred’s theory. We don’t obviously need to look far for the No-nos. They are typically conspicuous by their alarming presence and doomsday predictions, all the time probably sipping their cup of coffee in the office watering hole.

Buddy – Well liked, influencer, but not very powerful. The plethora of digital marketing tools available today, a count of likes, rarely converting to leads?

The Professor – Intellectual influencer. The data analytics tools and techniques that can transform marketing

Scout and Sally Ann: Helping, excited, part of the change. The business unit leaders who sign off on the initial pilot projects?

Well, the unlikely team of penguins waddled their way to a miraculous solution in the book, enjoying quite a few squids on the way as well, showing that in order to drive change, you need a vision and a team that can drive that change.

The real story:

Now let’s cut to our world. The CMOs' world where the Marketing Iceberg is melting today in a plethora of confused paradigms. Alice, the CMO, know she probably has an average tenure of less than 60 months in her role. Data is staring at her across channels from transaction information to marketing automation and digital marketing platforms. She has to balance the Art of Marketing; historically the branding and the positioning of the company with the emerging Science of Marketing driven by data to personalize customer insights and drive improved Marketing Effectiveness. And maybe, there is no Fred in sight. What can Alice do?

Let’s look at the 8 steps for change outlined in the book and see how they will apply for an organization trying to improve their Marketing Effectiveness Strategy

Steps

Change Drivers

Steps for driving Analytics Driven Marketing

Step 1

Create a sense of urgency

Don’t wait till the iceberg melts. That will be too late. marketing dashboards and metrics can report the past. The need today is to use the multitude of structured and unstructured data to get a more granular understanding of customers and drive personalized targeting strategies to improve marketing effectiveness.

Step 2

Put together the guiding team

The team that can drive the change will require diverse skills from data science, visualization, reporting, domain understanding, digital marketing and creativity. Skills which are rare to find and sometimes, even build in one team. The trick is to decide what to focus on building inhouse and which niche skills to outsource. Technology can be an enabler, but the right team has to focus on driving a balance between creativity and data driven decisions.

Step 3

Develop the change vision and strategy

The strategy will start with a roadmap development and prioritization of the Analytics opportunities. Key steps in the roadmap would include:

Mapping all sources of Marketing data

Driving Marketing Intelligence and Competitive Intelligence to assess the market opportunities and competitive trends

Customer Analytics with focus on building a 360 degree profile of customers, driving segmentation and target marketing

Marketing Performance Management to drive improved multi-channel campaigns and measure the success and lead conversion

Step 4

Communicate for understanding and buy-in

Use the content marketing tools such as blogs, webinars, whitepapers, videos on website and social channels to communicate and influence

Step 5

Empower others

Embed decision engines such as Recommendation Engine, Marketing Automation platforms, custom Visualization based dashboards that can turn business users in Analytics evangelists

Step 6

Produce short-term wins

Initiate Pilot projects including:

Customer segmentation and profiling

Customer Lifetime Value

Customer Experience tracking across channels

Step 7

Don’t let up

Pilot projects can show incremental lift. But not long-term gains. Drive enterprise wide analytics – across Sales, Marketing, and Customer Operations. Companies such as P&G are today implementing "Uber Analytics" teams that can drive enterprise wide change.

Step 8

Create a new culture

All this will fail if there is no change in culture.The most important step is to create a culture that stays true to understanding and respecting customers but uses data to drive the change. For in today’s world, competing on Analytics= Competing on Change

Let’s hope Alice finds Fred and the magical team of penguins that can drive data driven marketing change and impact over a nice meal of tasty squids. Would love to hear from all of you who are seeing the melting icebergs in your companies.

Can we stop the marketing icebergs from melting and learn from the nomadic seagulls as our penguin friends did? Is it time to look for Fred and his team?

Original article posted on LinkedIn Pulse.

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