Archive for December, 2008

Why Marketing needs Operations Directors

Monday, December 29th, 2008

Coming from me, this will sound like rampant self justification, as well as a thinly veiled bid for a promotion, but bear with me. Marketing, at least enterprise/business to business marketing, is becoming ever more complex, with diverse activity across web, email, direct mail and myriad other channels. This activity usually takes place in the context of key account management, lead generation and opportunity tracking. All of this adds up to a significant level of detail that needs to be managed in order to successfully deliver on dynamic and sophisticated sales and marketing strategy.

The pertinent point here is “detail”. Consider a recent initiative to comprehensively revise a key account list to be used as the focus for prospecting and account development activity, across Sales and Marketing. “Here’s the initial account list,” said Sales Operations, “start working on matching it to the database and we’ll send the final version as soon as it’s ready.” How many problems immediately present themselves from that simple, innocuous statement?

  • Why is the list being created outside of the database in the first place?
  • If this is unavoidable, how are the account list and resulting matched list going to be reconciled? How will these accounts be identified in the database?
  • How are the changes in the updated list, “once ready”, going to be communicated?

I could go on. In the inevitable rush to implement the new strategy though, Marketing Directors don’t have the time, let alone the inclination, to reflect on these considerations, intent instead on the ultimate objective of executing lead generation activity. The task, then, falls to the Operations team to sort out, which is fair enough. Marketing Directors aren’t there to handle fine detail and are rightly focussing on the bigger picture and the many aspects of a successful campaign.

The point is that if some of these aspects were considered early on in the process, a huge amount of work could be saved across the organisation, from generating the original list of accounts to identifying them in the database and enabling campaign activity. The conversations that put these processes in place though, frequently take place at too high a level for the detail to become apparent, and by the time it reaches the point of implementation, it’s too late to adopt the best approach.

A Marketing Operations Director, or similar role, working at the same level as a Corporate or Marketing Communications Director, would be able to participate in these conversations and strategy development and bring the attention to detail that is needed, even at this level, whilst also contributing to the development of wider objectives. Such is the role of the marketing hybrid, working across marketing and technology, fine detail and the big picture.

Roles like this should exist at a higher level in the Marketing organisation – and not just because I’m angling for that corner office!

Data warehouse in the cloud

Monday, December 15th, 2008

When business intelligence hosting provider Kognitio announced a seminar to discuss their data warehouse as a service proposition, featuring respected analyst Curt Monash, the timing couldn’t have been better. We were just giving thought to our own data warehouse and BI requirements, and this seemed like an interesting approach, given how well software-as-a-service based Salesforce.com works for us.

Kognitio’s DaaS solution provides a complete hosted data warehouse with a Business Objects BI implementation for data management and analytics. Though fundamentally orientated towards high volume applications, with its in-memory processing that removes the performance drag of hard drive based data-access, the fact there is no requirement for on-premise installation is compelling.

The pricing model is based on a monthly cost per terabyte with no contract of £9000 (about $12500, €9750), with improving terms for longer commitments and higher data volumes. Although there are initial set-up fees, there is no up front risk or capital expenditure and Kognitio claim an 85% reduction in the payback period over a conventional data warehouse approach.

Data is fed to the warehouse via FTP, requiring very limited infrastructure in order to get up and running, which is very appealing. This ability to create a BI solution with limited demand on IT for implementation and maintenance, and which can be funded out of discretionary budgets very much follows in the footsteps of Salesforce.com. It is over-specified for our needs however, but if there’s room for negotiation to create a more scalable solution, it could be very much of interest