In order to overcome their roadblocks and embrace analytics, retail organizations need to make sure that they have a company-wide commitment to data in place. This requires open communication and collaboration among all departments.
Specifically, it's important that the information technology office work closely with the marketing branch to keep operations running smoothly. Effective use of analytics is contingent upon the curators of data - IT - working together well with the users of that data - marketers.
Examining the disconnect
According to TechTarget, there's a clear disconnect between IT and marketing that impedes the abilities of companies to work together and achieve their analytics goals. IT leaders often perpetuate this divide, as they don't plausibly see a way for the two offices to work together.
Greg Pfluger, vice president of information systems at Madison-based American Family Insurance, explained the problem as a basic difference in ideology. IT people will say that they're not at all like their peers in marketing.
"[IT sees itself as] data-based, process-based and very practical," said Pfluger. "[IT sees] marketing as these 'creative types,' which shows a fundamental lack of understanding about marketing. More than likely, the people in marketing are some of the most data-driven people employed by your company … more data-driven than your finance people."
In other words, IT officials need to change the way they think of their marketing colleagues. The two really aren't that different, and they have the potential to collaborate and accomplish great things. Both parties are passionate about data quality and eager to achieve meaningful results.
Handling it in-house
IT and marketing find themselves at odds partially because of the disconnect between their respective workflows. IT leaders are responsible for housing all of their data and managing it themselves, while marketers have the option to outsource the analysis process.
"A lot of times, marketers are trying to find new customers, so the data and all of the systems you support can't help them," Pfluger said. "They are buying that data from other sources. Marketing departments naturally think of everything in terms of outsourcing, whether that's data analytics or the actual media buys."
Alternatively, companies could achieve just as much by empowering their IT people and their marketers to work together. They may even see improvements across the board in so doing - more information, higher levels of data quality and, ultimately, better results.