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A majority of marketers and digital professionals agree that the marketing function within their business “owns” the customer, according to an Econsultancy report [download page] sponsored by SAP Customer Experience. The study links assignment of ownership of the customer with customer data responsibility in the organization.

Indeed, fully 88% of customer data “leaders” agree that the marketing function within their business owns the customer, more than twice the share of (41%) of “mainstream” respondents. “Leaders” are those 34% of respondents who satisfied the following two conditions:

  • They are able to integrate different sources of customer data and activate that data; and
  • They strongly agree that they are able to deliver the right experience across all stages of the customer journey.

Leaders were more likely than mainstream respondents to say that the marketing department is primarily responsible for a range of data-related competencies in their businesses. However the gap in responsibility was particularly acute in a few areas:

  • Data operations (including data integration, martech stack, data quality), which 44% of leaders say the marketing department is responsible for, versus 25% of mainstream respondents;
  • Governance and compliance, including privacy and permissions (42% of leaders versus 20% of mainstream);
  • Infrastructure, such as identity management (29% of leaders compared to 11% of mainstream); and
  • Architecture, including taxonomy and metadata (27% of leaders versus 14% of mainstream).

Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that aside from customer data leaders, there’s another group that seems to be ahead in marketing ownership of the customer. That group is B2B marketers, two-thirds of whom said that marketing owns the customer in their organization, versus 53% of B2C respondents.

Disparate Tech Platforms Are A Problem For Everyone

Generally, roughly two-thirds of respondents say that marketing has a good or excellent level of cooperation with various business functions, including IT (65%), sales (71%), commerce (70%), back-end operations (64%) and customer service (68%). (It’s interesting to see commerce on the high side, as a recent study identified it as one area that sees less cooperation over the customer experience.)

It seems that internal cooperation shouldn’t necessarily be the main challenge faced, then, when trying to integrate and activate customer data – something that marketers continue to find problematic. Instead that’s disparate technology platforms, cited as the top hindrance by both leaders and mainstream respondents.

Leaders, though, have a far better time with internal structures. Whereas mainstream respondents said that siloed organizational structures are their second-largest impediment, those structures were much further down the list of problems for leaders.

That’s likely because 98% of leaders agree that their company culture is conducive to an integrated approach to customer data, against just 40% of mainstream respondents agreeing.

Other Highlights

  • Leaders are significantly more likely than mainstream respondents to agree that their marketing and commerce software is integrated and that they spend enough on marketing technology to deliver against their marketing objectives.
  • Leaders are also ahead in their ability to quantify the benefits of a more personalized and real-time approach to marketing and in their investment in artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms for marketing and customer understanding purposes.
  • Fully 89% of respondents overall rate a data-driven and transparent marketing process as being “critical” or “important,” though only half as many (44%) describe their organization’s capability in this area as “optimized.”

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 494 marketers and digital professionals, 95% of whom are based in either Europe (58%) or North America (37%). Respondents were fairly evenly split between B2B (32%), B2C (31%) and an equal focus on B2B and B2C (37%).

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