Analytical Paradox – The catch-22 of customer analytics

“The business of customer analytics is to get answers quickly so marketers can leverage newly gleaned information for competitive advantage. Why, then, is it so difficult to get answers to simple questions, let alone the complex ones? Often, marketers are faced with a management report that, instead of answering questions, spawns a thousand different questions. These in turn create requests for new reports or data. And a new cycle of system development begins. However, therein lies the rub: Traditional analytic system development must have requirements, but to define requirements, marketing must have a system to understand their customers. This catch-22 phenomenon is known as the Analytic Paradox: ‘I can’t tell you what I want until after I know it.’ For years marketing has been the ‘hard to pin down’ discipline with respect to requirements. Unlike other business units, marketing’s objectives are to change the status quo by being creative. This strategic focus creates demands on analysis applications unlike any other business applications. Another way of thinking about this: Strategic insight comes from finding something new and different in the way the market works or customers interact with your company. By definition, it is impossible to define what this is before it is found. Developing creative strategies is about finding and leveraging things that ‘I didn’t know I needed to know.’ These are the insights that have the biggest impact on marketing to customers, whether for acquisition, retention, cross-selling, or weaning.”

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