Monday 14 January 2019 9:57 am

Data and machine-learning needs human intelligence to achieve the best business results

Data has become the most valuable currency in business. But without the right tools or intelligence, its true value will not be realised.

According to a MiQ survey, 43 per cent of US and UK brand marketers think that the lack of measurement of business impact, such as sales or growth, is the main hurdle to investing more in data analytics.

But if marketing metrics are not the same as business goals, why are campaigns measured against them? Marketing should align with the same goals as the rest of the company, in order to measure tangible business results.

One recent campaign helped travel company TUI achieve a concrete outcome: increasing the number of passengers on its flights. By first developing an understanding of its existing customers, then using this to find new audiences, the retargeting campaign saw a 40 per cent higher conversion ratio and 36 per cent lower costs – results to be proud of.

The same MiQ study showed that 43 per cent of marketers consider the cost of advanced data science the biggest obstacle to investing in it, while for 39 per cent it was the difficulty of interpreting data, and for 38 per cent the lack of resources to analyse it.

Even more complex is the implementation of machine learning, a somewhat inaccessible technology, with results that require expertise to interpret.

The solution is to combine smart technology with human intelligence. Turbo-powered data crunching is what machine learning is made for, while data scientists are needed to create insights from these results.

Tourism Whistler wanted to increase interest among skiers on the Alps, and designed a campaign which delivered dynamic ads showing the weather conditions at their best. The delivery was automated, but the intelligence to know how irresistible these would seem was purely human.

Connecting the data dots will make brands stand out from the crowd. Data and analytics from campaigns can highlight challenges, provide solutions to problems, and bring a greater understanding of customers and sales to the business.

Marketing campaigns should ultimately result in transformative business decisions which maximise the value of data and technology – but this will only be achieved when data meets human intelligence.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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