What we need is a role that not only mediates between the data guys and marketing minds, but actually plugs these gaps and takes responsibility for the big picture questions neither party, largely, is comfortable in owning
Like any role, this will have to evolve over time. But I have three preliminary thoughts that could help start sketching what the role will involve:
1. Data needs time to grow
We often think of data as a fixed property, but in reality nothing could be further from the truth.
A data strategist should be tasked with planning how a business’s use of data will evolve over time, both in terms of its decision making capacity and how it will adapt to keep pace with new technologies and innovations.
2. You are what you measure
As I’ve written before, marketers need to be very mindful of what they measure, because all sorts of weaknesses, biases and oversights can slip in through the cracks of measurement.
A data strategist’s role should involve actively monitoring how measurement impacts efficacy and creating clear, long-term plans for the improvement of measurement and tracking practises. This might even involve developing new metrics, and planning how they will be introduced over time.
3. Align data with business goals
Data can only improve performance if it’s properly aligned with the overarching goals of a business, and that means it’s vital that we determine the most important questions data needs to address.
A data strategist’s most pressing concern should be ensuring the business’s data generation, integration and implementation is all ultimately in service of its performance objectives. This means understanding the challenges the business faces and translating them into clear, actionable guidance for the data team.
Of course, this doesn’t necessarily need to be a separate role: there are plenty of great Marketing Directors out there that could develop a solid data strategy for themselves – if they were so inclined.
Strategy is always business specific, and this will be no different: every marketing department is at a different phase in their integration of data and will therefore need to develop its own specific approach to data strategy.
But that really is part of the fun, and I for one can’t wait to see what improving the strategic element of data will do to the overall progress we make.