Combating Data Source Overload in the Era of Predictive

People often complain about “information overload” — too much content with too little time to process. Yet for me, it’s not the volume of messages that’s the problem. It’s the number of channels over which they are delivered. Email, Facebook Messenger, LinkedIn, Twitter Direct Messages, text, Slack … hell, there’s even messaging within Spotify. I’ve got a bad case of “channel overload.”

A similar phenomenon is occurring in business. “Disruption” of incumbent software vendors and innovation at the margins of systems of record, such as CRM or marketing automation, creates tool fragmentation, and, by extension, reporting fragmentation. In marketing, for example, we find ourselves stitching together data from native reports within our CRM, marketing automation, CMS, social media management system, paid channels and even specialty advocacy and account-based marketing applications. Multiply these sources by the varied tools used by other lines of business, and CEOs and boards don’t know what to believe. This is why a former CEO told me, “If it doesn’t come from marketing automation, Salesforce or Google, I won’t trust it.”

As sales and marketing leaders, we need a single, universal version of “the truth.”

The challenge isn’t that we have too much information, but rather that the sources are fragmented. As a result, the data often doesn’t line up, and even if it does, skeptical executives may suspect source cherry-picking. I don’t have to reach far back to recall presentations in which I’ve spent as much time defending my data sources as defending my marketing strategy. Having fractured data sources isn’t just annoying–it is a real detriment to managing your business. As sales and marketing leaders, we need a single, universal version of “the truth.”

That’s why I’m so excited about the new Infer reports in InsightSquared. More often than not, companies have murky visibility into their sales pipelines, and are unable to measure marketing performance against sales results until after the month or quarter closes, when it’s too late to course-correct. By pulling Infer data into InsightSquared, we’re able to access predictive analytics deeper and deeper into the funnel — and because the source data lives inside Salesforce and Marketo, it’s not only reconciled with the other funnel reports we deliver, but it’s also rooted in a trusted source.

My team uses these screens to determine how well our marketing programs are fueling growth, while sales uses them to better align effort around continuous lead management–all in one place. Are our best leads getting the right level of sales activity? We can answer that in a flash. Are our best leads going un-worked? I hope not, but I can tell you if it happens. I can even tell you, instantly, how many leads in each quality cohort I need to produce to make our numbers. And it’s all visualized in the same analytics product.

Lead Aging: Leadership can quickly zoom in on high quality leads and ensure that no good lead gets left behind.

Innovation isn’t going to stall; disruption will continue to be the lifeblood of tech. The key isn’t in trying to slow the pace of change, but rather in recognizing that even as — err, especially as — the world around us becomes increasingly unsteady, the most reliable way to earn leadership’s confidence is through consistency. After all, it’s difficult enough to hit your numbers. Having to defend the sources that prove you did so, that’s a shackle I’m glad to have broken.  

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