We're swimming (even drowning) in data—social data, CRM data, Google Analytics data... The list goes on and on. That data can help marketers better understand and react to markets than ever. The catch is that for that data to be useful, someone has to find, collate, and present it in a sensible form.

IBM's State of Marketing survey found that marketers around the world who use analytics in understanding individual customer preferences—and pinpoint media spend to target them—are more successful than other marketers in meeting revenue goals. However, IDC's CMO 2014 Predictions report finds "80% of customer data will be wasted due to immature enterprise data 'value chains.'"

A new breed of specialist is emerging among marketers, sales professionals, and business information analysts with a mission to improve and harness those data "value chains." Many weren't trained specifically for this role, but they understand their job and how technology can help them and their colleagues work smarter. So, everyone else on the team counts on them to help find the answers they need by pulling together the right data and presenting it in a format everyone else can make sense of.

What are the daily challenges marketers face?

1. Data is out of control

As systems of engagement proliferate, data piles up in CRM systems, marketing automation, social media, digital marketing, and Web analytics stores. Meanwhile, the Internet is bringing more external resources into play, ranging from demographic and sales intelligence resources to all the additional data beginning to be collected by the Internet of Things. This scattering of data is a major problem. Without 360-degree access to all available data sources, it is inevitable that organizations are destined to perform far below 100% of their potential.

2. There's too much data to handle

The proliferation of data is giving marketers a feeling of data overload—even before they connect into all the data they could be accessing. Inefficient data connections and integrations add to that burden, and excessively complex and unwieldy tools make harnessing certain data sources inefficient and costly. Time is wasted waiting for cumbersome batch updates, and many integrations are dependent on overstretched IT resources that add further wait cycles to the process.

Marketers are feeling the weight of data bearing down on them. The growing number and increasing complexity and volume of data sources—both internal and external—will only add to the pressure. Respondents want the confidence to work with current and future data sources but feel overwhelmed.

3. Data is too difficult to use

Collecting data is great. Putting that data into practice is a different matter, however. Because marketers have access to so much data, it can be challenging to figure out which data is relevant for a particular situation.

One way to alleviate this problem is to determine the question that needs to be answered before the data is collected, so marketers can narrow down their options, making data much easier to use.

4. You don't have enough time

Time is a challenge for virtually all marketers, though the nature of the challenge varies. Some want to find more time in their working week to wrestle with data collection and reporting. For others, the challenge is that they spend too much time on these activities.

Marketers would welcome any means of reducing the time it takes to complete their activities—enabling some to do more in the time available while others can get the results they need faster and get on with the rest of their work.

5. You want to make a difference

The goal of any marketing campaign is to make a difference in an organization.

Data is key to smart decision-making and opportunity-taking in today's fast-moving, real-time, digital business world. Enterprises that are on top of their data are the ones best placed to come out on top. Marketers need to believe in the job they're doing rather than feel stuck on a treadmill of just going through the motions of producing and writing reports. Having input into what happens to the results is vital.

* * *

Determining how to ease some of the challenges above is critical to running successful marketing operations. Once marketers determine the right solutions to those challenges, they can better understand what changes to make and how to become most successful.

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image of Adam Breakey

Adam Breakey is senior product marketing manager at Progress Software, working on the Easyl product line.

Twitter: @abreakey 

LinkedIn: Adam Breakey