This is Amanda Vande Brake kicking off my second series for the Technology Marketing Center – this series exploring the use of digital and automation technologies to improve brand and marketing effectiveness.
The Sharing Economy
The sharing economy, that socio-economic juggernaut based on sharing access to goods and services rather than relying on the old standard of individual ownership, has redefined the marketplace. And it’s no flash-in-the-pan. Price Waterhouse Cooper estimates that by the year 2025, the core sectors of the sharing economy will be valued at $335 billion[i].
Powering this peer-to-peer phenomena, according to Forbes all the way back in 2013, is the premise that “when information about goods is shared (typically via an online marketplace), the value of those goods may increase for the business, for individuals, for the community and for society in general.”[ii] And, although technology sales and marketing execs reference sharing economy superstars like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb daily as well as position their products to align with this disruptive trend, the most valuable lessons to be learned – the ones that have the rare potential to successfully disrupt corporate culture from the inside, out – are found within the sharing economy’s technology backbone, specifically open or easily sharable data.
The ability for web-based systems to gather, measure and share individual user data across an enterprise has never been as simple or affordable for organizations than it is today. So, why are there still so many sales and marketing professionals relying on a limited view of their individual prospect? Why don’t all sales people know the last time I came to their website, opened an email, downloaded a white paper, attended a webinar, talked with a sales rep, bought a product, returned a product, wrote an online review or recommended a product to my social media network? As someone ‘on the cusp’ of Gen X / Millennial generations, I access and rely on the sharing economy almost daily, and, as a result, expect that data is shared across most all organizations already - for both my and the organization’s benefit. As a technology marketer, I know better, though.
Global adoption of internet and mobile technologies, lower-cost mobile devices and ubiquitous social media usage all added up to welcome the advent of the sharing economy just a few years ago; however, attitudes about data ownership within industry and even individual organizations have been much slower to adapt.
6 Marketing Data Dos & Don'ts
So, to help ease the transition away from individual data ownership attitudes for sales and marketing execs especially, I offer this list of Data Dos and Don’ts
Pay close attention to the meaning behind labels like Conversion, Acquisition, Retention, Attrition, etc. One man’s Conversion is another’s Acquisition. Discuss how often their data is updated, how it is sourced and how it impacts day-to-day operations. You’ll discover you may have a better source to offer or a more frequently updated version of the data in use already. They will get a better understanding of all the data – and opportunity – available to them you’re your side. Ultimately, though, start sharing information as soon as possible for the benefit of the entire organization, even if it’s regularly scheduled data exports via email.Powering this peer-to-peer phenomena, according to Forbes all the way back in 2013, is the premise that “when information about goods is shared (typically via an online marketplace), the value of those goods may increase for the business, for individuals, for the community and for society in general.”[i] And, although technology sales and marketing execs reference sharing economy superstars like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb daily as well as position their products to align with this disruptive trend, the most valuable lessons to be learned – the ones that have the rare potential to successfully disrupt corporate culture from the inside, out – are found within the sharing economy’s technology backbone, specifically open or easily sharable data.
2. DON’T wait.
I don’t want to disappoint anyone, but I’ve learned there’s no magical moment when the sun breaks through the clouds amid a heavenly choral chord signaling it’s time to begin syncing data with other departments in your organization. Theirs will be stored in a different way from yours, guaranteed. There will be a lot of questions and confidently offered judgments about how data was managed in the past and how there’s just so much work to do; but, get through this necessary evil as soon as your schedule allows. This is the only real pathway I’ve found to defining requirements for successful enterprise data management.
3. DO document definitions and needs.
You, or a larger team, will likely be assessing several technology systems – from legacy to brand new; from a shared Google Doc to an enterprise-wide data warehouse – to enable data sharing. The first step is to ensure you’re all speaking the same language when it comes to what’s being measured and tracked, and definitions that also spell out what a data point is NOT are the best way I’ve seen this done. Next, ensure that all the wish list items that come up in meetings, hallway conversations and from individual research are written down somewhere. Most of them may get deleted eventually, but you’ll have a record of what was considered to inform possible versions in the future or to give you a good chuckle when you come across these notes a couple years from now.
4. DO embrace web-based databases and APIs.
Like, seriously, hugs are in order. They are what’s making it possible for you to access more data and do your job better, and security protocols today for web-based systems are as strong, if not sometimes stronger, than the security requirements that prevented use of these systems in the past. Of course, data security needs vary across industries, but generally, Anything you can login to and access via the web to access sales or marketing data is going to be more practical and applicable (and therefore valuable) than data you access by logging into your organization’s VPN or local servers. Finally, APIs and systems extendable with use of APIs translate to easier and more opportunities for sharing data in the future, after your system for sharing data is in place.
5. DON’T hoard data.
Just don’t. No one wins.
6. DO balance the data you gather on your consumers with transparency into your organization.
Make transparency a cornerstone of your brand. Share how consumers are having an impact on the organization. Give a human face to your sales and marketing people on external company communications. No (healthy) relationship lasted very long or did anyone much good without equal give-and-take.
[ii] Geron, Tomio (November 9, 2012). "Airbnb Had $56 Million Impact On San Francisco: Study". Forbes. Retrieved 13 June 2013.