Big Data

Four reasons why data is still a “dirty word”

Written by Jason Groom
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Originally published
August 10 2016,
July 3 2020
Swearing, cussing, bad language...None of these has a place in polite conversation, and certainly not in the office. But sometimes, when deadlines are looming or projects go really wrong, it’s useful to have an expletive up your sleeve that alerts colleagues to your super-charged stress levels (and proximity to spontaneous combustion).

For marketers (and even before it was BIG) data has always been a “four-letter word”.  Its ability to delay a project, compromise it and negatively impact its success and ROI, is unrivalled. And now, with talk of a “data tsunami” it’s being blamed for actually causing companies to lag behind.

According to research from Econsultancy’s latest Measurement and Analytics Report, there are four key challenges for businesses in dealing with their data. While we’re not convinced that these fall squarely at the feet of the marketing team, there clearly are gaps, and in some cases gaping chasms, that crucial information is being allowed to fall in to.


  1. A lack of executive sponsorship

Of those surveyed 51% of companies said that there was no executive sponsorship of digital analytics in their organisation. Without impetus and recognition from above, and no buy-in from the C-Suite, there is inevitably less importance placed on this by those lower down the organisational ladder. The result? These companies are 29% less likely to have a formal data strategy in place.

  1. A lack of ROI measurement

Staggeringly, 48% of company respondents are not measuring the ROI of digital analytics. Looking on the bright side of course that means that most DO but, with such a hefty investment required in both cash and resource to do it properly, this is still a pretty surprising statistic.

  1. A lack of formal strategy

62% of companies do not have a formally documented data analytics strategy in place. Those organisations that have, cite the ability to combine the online and offline as giving them the most insight into, and understanding of, the customer journey.

  1. A lack of skills

The ability to produce reports (which historically did always sit within the marketer’s remit) does not seem to be a cause for concern. However, the use of Business Intelligence tools and statistical modelling (a relatively new phenomenon for most marketers) is, with almost half of respondents identifying a skills gap in this area.


The marketer’s struggle with data doesn’t look to be going away any time soon. May we suggest a swear-box which, when bulging, gets spent on something the whole team can enjoy? That way at least when someone drops “the D-bomb” it’s not all bad!

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