Dear Marketers: You Need a Data Scientist

We’ve all heard about the endless possibilities around big data. How this unimaginably enormous repository of information holds the key to every revolutionary marketing technique we’ve ever imagined. In several ways, it’s true. And that’s where data scientists come in.

Data scientists bring a unique — and exceptionally valuable — set of skills to the table. They are experts in both statistical analysis of big data and interpreting and communicating findings. A data scientist, for instance, would not only break down the stats on a massive inventory of tweets, he might also show a marketer how demographics information harvested from that data set can help target a certain group of potential customers.

This means data scientists blend the art and science behind big data to give marketers exactly what they have always wanted: insights and recommended actions. The role only stands to become more important as big data becomes an increasingly necessary ingredient for successful, competitive businesses. Here are a few reasons why.

The Rising Demand for Data Scientists

A study by the McKinsey Global Institute found that the United States is currently running a deficit of 1.5 million data analysts and managers. This is because the demand for data experts is growing at the same rate as the data itself — if not faster — which suggests that data scientists are, and will remain, in short supply. Most companies still aren’t taking advantage of all the information they’ve got on hand, and without the resources to analyze and interpret it, terabytes worth of information are being underutilized.

A Crucial Marketing Ingredient

Marketers have always used data to design campaigns, gauge results, and make adjustments, but the depth and detail of information available today means that traditional measures and insights simply won’t cut it anymore.

The typical marketing department’s skill set isn’t well adapted to manipulating spreadsheets full of numbers they don’t fully understand. Data scientists, on the other hand, have the ability to wrap their minds around the statistics, algorithms, and programming languages needed to leverage big data. Take the example of loyalty program data for a large retailer. Marketers would probably be able to glean some insights from the data set, but data scientists could perform sophisticated analysis that maximizes the information’s potential, harvesting customer segmentation data, predicting future trends, and more. Plus, they have the expertise to interpret that information and communicate it in a way that others can understand.

When marketers equip themselves with the right tools and team up with the right data scientists, the information that was previously overwhelming becomes an incredibly useful and invaluable resource.

Maximizing the Relationship

Time management isn’t the only way data scientists help marketers. Their insight can also help the marketing department interpret results and provide hard data that support their social marketing efforts to C-level executives. Where a marketer might be forced to rely on likes or follows to support the value of social media, data scientists can dig deeper, demonstrating how specific campaigns ultimately translated to increased sales.

There’s no doubt that big data holds the key to tremendous advancements in the marketing industry, but the art of using information to sculpt real-time offers and highly-personalized customer experiences depends on the science of analysis. The time is now for competitive marketers to make data scientists their best friends in the organization because insights produced by their unique combination of analytical and interpretive skills will play an increasingly critical role in marketing success.