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Marketing Mindset with Katrina Conn of Teradata

With a mission to help companies understand and engage key audiences – from customers to shareholders and beyond – marketing is a complex, multi-layered and ever-evolving field. As the world grows more interconnected, consumer needs change and communication channels develop and shift, organizations need marketing experts with the ability to keep step. Now, with more information at our fingertips than ever before, companies recognize that making data-informed decisions is a key ingredient to their success – and that marketing and data analytics are becoming inextricably intertwined.

In this series, Poole College sits down with some of the top marketing experts across the country to find out more about how data analytics is changing the game.

Meet Katrina Conn, Practice Director, Customer Experience & Data Science, Teradata

What is your role?

Conn: I’ve been with Teradata since October 2018 and I lead the customer experience and data science practices for the Americas. Teradata is a multi-cloud data platform for enterprise analytics. Most brands have legacy and siloed data from multiple sources and must pull data from these different sources into a common data store and then try to normalize and prep it to develop and train their models. Teradata allows companies to leverage all their data, no matter where it originated, within our database, and run advanced analytics on top of the data, eliminating all the data movement, latency, enterprise performance issues and potential data integrity challenges.

How has marketing evolved?

Conn: Over the years, the big thing in marketing was evolving channels – the delivery mechanism. Everyone was quick to provide channel execution – text, e-mail, in-app push notifications, social media, etc. However, all those channels need to be managed and analyzed. That’s proliferated the number of technology providers by channel. As consumers, we want a unified, connected experience… whether it’s a chatbot or messaging within an app, or even calling for a personalized experience. Businesses across industries are trying to stitch all that data and cross-channel engagement together, but no one is particularly good at it. The reason being, if you think about it, organizations and their strategic customer experience initiatives have grown organically, based on channel adoption. Brands now are becoming more customer-centric because they made someone responsible for the “customer experience” – you see companies hiring positions like Chief Experience Officers. Now with the rise of the importance of first-party data, we’re seeing Chief Data Officers getting more involved in the customer data analytics. Data has been there, but companies are struggling with how to best access and leverage it. Right now, the holy grail of the customer experience is understanding the situational fidelity of your customer – whether it’s a patient, member, traveler, B2B or B2C customer. What do you know about their persona? How long have they been a customer? How engaged are they as a customer? Where are they in the lifecycle? How engaged are they? Do they place frequent orders? Place large orders? All those things should inform how you interact with your customers. There is also a focus on moving from descriptive, diagnostic and predictive analytics towards prescriptive analytics. We need to look at not only historic behavior, to predict potential behaviors but also what’s currently happening in context to leverage prescriptive analytics.

What sort of value do you and Teradata place on analytics? 

Conn: There is zero value to data if you can’t use it. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in developing complex analytic models. However, to provide any business value, the analytic insights need to be actionable. For example, say you know your chat rate increased and they are a new segment of customers – but they’re churning because you don’t understand their needs and how they want to be treated. That’s great that you know that but what do you do with that knowledge? Who do you provide those insights to? Who is responsible for identifying those experience friction points and intervening? Data is fine but unless you understand the business impact, and can apply it, the data and insights have no value.

What’s the importance of marketing analytics in today’s work environment?

Conn: CMOs today are being scrutinized more and more and have to justify their budgets and spend and demonstrate marketing performance and ROI. This includes lead gen, acquisition and sales measurement, but also customer satisfaction, NPS and loyalty perspectives. Marketing analytics is imperative to providing those insights, KPIs and trends in addition to actual performance metrics for sales and customer experience, engagement and retention.

What are the biggest challenges you see in growing the marketing analytics industry?

Conn: It’s foundational – the data layer. Everyone claims they can unite the customer profile and their experience across touchpoints, but they cannot. The typical data foundation is not scalable because most of the applications are siloed based on channel down versus data up. Consider having five different channels on the top tier all trying to engage with the consumer but they aren’t connected. At Teradata, we think about the data layer first and ensure the channels are served from this customer data foundation. The biggest challenge is all these channel providers are trying to establish the data piece on top of the channel – but for channel engagement to be connected it must start with the data foundation. We added analytics to run on top of the data layer to inform the next best experience for customers, regardless of channel or system of engagement.

How do you foresee graduates with a master’s degree in marketing analytics being able to have an impact in the workplace at a place like Teradata?

Conn: One of the primary components I see, is students who can understand data at a citizen data science level. Meaning they need to understand what are the KPIs and metrics that matter and influence business objectives and be able to interpret the business impact and make recommendations based on the results. Can they ask and answer the right questions for the business? A lot of marketing measurement in the past was focused on vanity metrics. You could understand your reach, but not necessarily your impact. I would expect master’s students to be able to translate that analytic insight into business value and impact from a marketing perspective. That’s where there’s a deficit and where the focus needs to be You need to be able to translate the output from your data scientist and then make recommendations to drive business value, because you also understand the business model. That’s golden.

In what ways would Teradata, and people like yourself, want to engage with the faculty, students and alums of the new NC State Master of Management, Marketing Analytics program?

Conn: We need to blend academia and industry practice. We need students to understand what’s happening in the field. We want to work with faculty and students and provide them with some challenges our companies are facing and how to address them. We can provide real-world problems and work with students to train them to use our analytic technology to solve and develop real business outcomes.

What are you looking for in potential employees?

Conn: It’s important for students to understand what challenges brands are facing. They don’t need to be data scientists, but they need to know how to leverage data and the value of a customer beyond NPS and LTV. I also want to know what it is they want to do. If I could put them in a situation where their skills align with their interests and education, that’s a win-win. Technology is technology, and it will continue to evolve, but I want to know how they want to use technology to solve problems. Their ability to describe a problem and its potential impact on the business… that’s critical. I also want to see some hands-on marketing experience – even if it’s volunteering – along with their academics. I want to see that they can identify a problem, recommend an approach, and have an anticipated outcome. It’s extremely valuable to have that real-life experience.