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Many marketing professionals still lack data analysis skills

Paul Newman Archive

There's no doubt that being able to work with big data can have a tremendous effect on the marketing field. By analyzing information about their customers, their clients and the larger industries around them, marketers can learn to make better decisions with their money and resources, helping them get a leg up on their competitors in the corporate world.

It seems like a rather open-and-shut case - data is a surefire path to success. Yet according to recent research, many still aren't convinced.

According to Information Week, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) conducted a  survey in March, asking 257 top business executives about their uses of big data - or lack thereof. The study found that when asked about the skills most necessary in marketing, only 37 percent said that "using data analysis to extract predictive findings from 'big data'" was most important.

It's worth noting that this figure is a significant increase from five years ago, when a meager 17 percent agreed with the above statement. Still, though, the number is too low, and more must be done to create awareness of the immense power of data.

Here are a few of the reservations that today's marketing executives have about big data in marketing.

Simply put, many firms are worried about data quality. They might have large amounts of information on their hand, but they're not confident about its accuracy, and they must do more to ensure that their information is solid before proceeding. Software tools can help guarantee that people's contact information and demographic data is pure, but according to the EIU, 21 percent of marketers still worry about the accuracy problem.

Another hangup for many is the expense of working with data. It costs a lot of money to gather information in the first place, not to mention storing it and purchasing analytical tools to work with it. Then there's the matter of paying data analysts and philosophers to take the information they're working with and distil valuable lessons from it.

Furthermore, not everyone is convinced that big data is ultimately useful. According to the EIU, 31 percent of respondents said "we aren't sure how big data analytics will create business opportunities." For these marketers, the problem is one of awareness - these individuals must do more on their own to explore data's immense capabilities.

Using big data can be a fantastic development for marketers today. It's up to them to explore the many benefits.