Data is the new oil. We have all heard this before. Now it is all about AI, and how will AI help turn this "oil" into the next generation of digital fuel for business. Make it more economical, effective, better outputs and results. 

Forget about AI. Focus on Data & Data alone.

Data has always been a challenge for Sales & Marketing. The CRM is always out of date, not used properly, if at all. This impacts how and who Marketing can, well, market to. Then Sales blames Marketing for poor MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads), which in turn means it is the fault of the Technology. Full circle we go again.

In a world where we are becoming more and more digitally dependent, this relies more and more on the quality of the data that you start with, not the technology platform. 

A Friend of mine recommended I try out Thread as I never ever buy new clothes; I rely on my Wife, Birthday and Christmas. Thread asks you lots of questions, and I mean lots; what brands you like, styles for different occasions and more. I made the time to answer more then the standard set given; my thought process was that if I make the effort upfront to give the system as much data, then the results will be better.  Guess what, their first pass was pretty spot on for about 80% of what they recommended to me (or the AI did, who knows) .

Back to Data in Sales & Marketing; if you truly want to move into the 21st Century and start to make meaningful decisions based on data insight, 2 things will need to happen :

1st - accept that your current data is not very good, take the time and effort to clean it up. Suggest starting with a small project - this could be based on a Key Client programme or Industry focus. Get this in order, get some proof points, learn from it, improve and then consider wider roll out.

If you use technoloy platforms such as Sales Navigator and Microsoft Social Engagement, you have to feed them data in order for the tool to start surfacing insight - if you yourself do not understand what it is you want the system to follow, monitor and alert you on, then you haven't got a hope in hell of getting any meaningful insight from them. And it is not the fault of the technology, it is your fault through lack of understanding of what output you want to achieve.

2nd - Mindset. You will have to change the way you think. It is all very well have all this meaningful data and insight, but if you or your teams do not understand how to act on this, and in a way that is going to maintain the overall buying experience for the client or prospect, then it will be all for nothing. "We always used to do it this way" or something to that effect will kill all of this.  The focus has to be on how can achieve the same output but in a new way that is fit for purpose. 

Words like agile and transformation can no longer be corporate buzz, you will actually have to act on these and what they mean if you want to remain competitive in this digital economy.