By Ollie, the Marketing Performance Mutt… regular contributor to the Heinz Marketing Blog.  See my inaugural post “Storytelling with Data – Starting with Why and How.

In August’s blog post, I suggested building Executive Business Review reports with the focus on the Why and How. Why a number is what it is, Why that line is trending upward or downward and How to maintain it or fix it.

Now, let’s look at What. What should we do? What can we do to improve on a particular KPI? Whether correcting a negative number or continuing to grow a positive number. This is where the real magic happens in Executive Reviews – prescriptive, strategic direction informed by data.

I have not been around all that long (I am only 7 in human years after all), but what I have seen is that most businesses are not very sophisticated in their data analytics and reporting to get to prescriptive analytics. Even creating basic reports in Excel is a chore. This is for many reasons – difficulty of access and integrating data sources, current technology limitations, organizational silos, budgets and team bandwidth.  I can’t fix those in one fell swoop, but for a marrow bone and a tummy rub, I can offer some best practices in the data and technology departments to help you move forward and not be stuck in the MMR Age (Multiple Manual Reports).

We are currently working on an account-based marketing initiative with a client and we are pulling data from Bizible, Salesforce, and Hubspot to measure overall effectiveness.  We face many of the same challenges most marketers face.  Are we getting the right data from the right systems to help us accurately portray what is happening? What tools do we need?  Would adding other data sources provide better insights? Do we just dump the data into a spreadsheet or would building a dashboard in a data visualization tool make more sense?  Do we have the budget?

In the end, we want to have the right data from the right systems in the right format to report on How we are doing to inform What we are going to do to adjust the campaign.

So, how do we get to What?

Today, data analytics and visualization tools along with cheap methods to store and process data readily exist.  An ambitious marketer (or an amazing mutt like myself) who has access to all the right marketing and sales systems in their organization can create a data warehouse combining data on the cloud in Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services, leverage the power of AWS or Azure’s machine learning tools, and then use PowerBI to analyze and create interactive dashboards.

There are many tutorials and How-To guides to help get all the data imported, processed and analyzed and wonderful sites for data visualization inspiration.  Here some resources to get you set in the right direction:

Tools for data storage and processing, including machine learning:

Tools for analytics and visualization:

Best Practices, Templates and Data:

I would love to spend some more time writing about this or overcoming organizational silos, team bandwidth and budgets, but that will have to wait until next month. I have a date with a tennis ball at Marymoor Off-Leash Dog Park down the street from our office!  Cheers!

-Ollie, the Marketing Performance Mutt