Does that sound like a good idea to you? It doesn't to me, yet so many of us do it. Our instincts are to look back before we go forward, and ask what we did before, and what we need to do to change (for preference, as little as possible)? We organize our businesses to be accountable in narrow silos. We set incentives the same way; we define goals within tight guard rails and reward those who execute on those goals often out of proportion to our collective objective.
Many enterprises take this further still; despite having a single share price and, often, extraordinarily homogeneous customers, we resist the obvious opportunity to optimize portfolio performance and align incentives to that end -- unless we sit on the very point of the corporate pyramid.
For many managers this is been a successful approach. It breeds focus, a sense of control and the promise of reward for effort and success unpolluted by the failings of others. I work in advertising -- the business of brand growth -- and from that view believe that it's not going to work forever. Four prevailing truths make this certain:
Let's take a view of this through the perspective of data, increasingly seen as one of the most valuable assets in business, and through media, perennially one of the most significant expenses in business.
As we move to an increasingly programmatic world, the relationship between data and media has reached a new level of intimacy and this, in turn, asks pressing organizational questions. The two key technologies in programmatic media are:
It makes sense for the DMP to be populated with all the data available as doing so is likely to create data symmetry inside the company so everyone is operating against the company's goals with the same indicators. And with data massed in the DMP, this is also the greatest opportunity to create data asymmetry between the company and sellers of advertising. Put simply, if the buyer can see value in something the seller cannot, the buyer obtains an advantage.
Think why this would be interesting if you were a food or personal care conglomerate. It would be good to know that the person who responds to candy ads in the evening is the same person that responds to coffee ads in the morning. For shampoo and toothpaste analogies, simply rinse and repeat. If your coffee business and your candy business don't share a DMP it would be hard to know and even harder to determine which category should bid on which impression. If they don't share a DMP across markets their ability to acquire and apply data across borders is compromised.
The DMP/DSP might be a narrow use case, but it's emblematic of wider issues in business that can be summarized as spending too much time on things and nowhere near enough time on the whole thing. Facebook, Google and Amazon spend a heck of a long time maintaining corporate alignment that, in turn, allows for rapid innovation cycles and deployment of successful developments.
Maybe it's time for organizations to think of data; its collection and application as the organizing catalyst for organizational change and as the mechanism to connect global portfolios as well as global brands.
Doing so has significant internal implications:
Interestingly we have been here before, in the procurement of oil and other supply-side commodities, which influence production, factory prices and profit. Perhaps data is the first “demand side” commodity that will be treated in the same way, and like all truly global parts of the supply chain encourage us to think, and act differently -- in pursuit of fundamental versus incremental change.
The opinions and points of view expressed in this commentary are exclusively the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of MediaVillage/MyersBizNet management or associated bloggers.