MWL 2013 was a very exciting exhibition of innovation and ideas – brimful, in fact of new ways of solving old riddles (including a board game to capture consumer thinking – “game changer” from blauw). As we moved around the space engaging with bright and smiling faces, sat in a variety of the seminars given by industry leaders and generally soaked up the atmosphere, the message here was incredibly obvious: Data is everything! Capturing and providing access to it, driving loyalty from it, how to use it as a base to grow your brand and how to understand your customer and grab their attention using it – every corner of the room was rooted in Data and Analytics. One could almost be forgiven for thinking they were at a Data, Analytics and Insight exhibition, not a Marketing focussed event. Big Data is grabbing more headlines with each passing week; thoughts on how to process the vast volume of data available, focusing on how to best utilise the information it provides, and better yet delivering insight from it, this perhaps should not be a surprise. However, we wondered how many Marketing departments are taking data as a starting point for their activities on board? How open to being truly guided by data are marketers? Working within the Marketing talent supply chain, we know there is a lack of marketers who are really comfortable with social and/or consumer data and the insight it provides and therefore ultimately, the underlying skills that are shaping the brands they are responsible for. Instead of engaging and getting to grips with data analytics (line managers are not setting development points to counter this skills gap) the majority of marketers seem to try and shy away from the data and leave the responsibility for recommendations to come from elsewhere. Whilst we do not advocate that Marketers should do all the data work themselves, we do feel a more collaborative approach is required to make best use of the story the data is telling. After all, the Marketers are the Brand Guardians – they should have a vested interest in understanding the analytics and insights. Whether it is fear of the unknown or not wanting to lose the ‘creative’ label, not having an understanding of data will lead to an inherent reluctance to use the insights and base their decision fully on it. Increase the understanding and you increase the buy-in. A move should be made to bring a balance to the marketers skill set. Being able to talk the same data language (jargon) allows greater understanding of consumers/customers and how to best engage them. This would set the foundation for a brand strategy which is fully in sync to the commercial approach of the business. Look around your marketing team and think about whom amongst you is truly comfortable with the data your business and customers generate? Can you and your team make better use of this valuable asset? Could this be the edge you are seeking? Speak to us – We can provide the springboard from which to further or launch your future data strategy.