Three steps CIOs and CMOs of e-commerce companies must take to lead competition

By Grace Liu, vice president of IT strategy and global operations at Seagate Technology.

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Influence from celebrities to industry professionals take questions from consumers in real-time, while videos, livestreams and social media posts complement the whole process of buying decision.

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This entire e-commerce machine requires an enormous amount of data—data interaction, data capture, data processing, and data storage, all needed to deal with the live queries in real-time. The issue isn’t about the volume of data, though. What’s tricky is the way most businesses would process it.

Taking data out of silos

The data and marketing sides of a business need to work closely together. Chiel marketing officers (CMOs), until recently, had the marketing and communication expertise to understand customers and their journey,  whereas chief information officers (CIOs) understood what it took to architect systems and unit data to best run a business. However, these parties didn’t interact much, their actions often taking place in isolation.

Today, we see emerging market leaders – such as Netflix, Grab and Spotify – taking an agile, integrated approach to data management. Information technology must become more customer-centric, and marketing must become more data-driven to succeed and this can happen only when CIOs and CMOs cohere their strategies. But, as we’ve seen from studies published just last year, integrated relationships between CIOs and CMOs are still rare.

That means companies miss out on a lot of potential to deliver a compelling customer experience at scale. For an e-commerce app, that looks like a seamlessly integrated platform for shopping, paying, tracking shipments, customer service and reviewing etc. businesses will need to create better predictive models that optimize their operations and anticipate customers’ needs.

Covid-19 has only accelerated the turn to online purchases, as pandemic measures restricted many people to their homes. In response, they took to shopping online.

That’s good news for e-commerce companies, but it also means that they must continue to find the best ways to efficiently utilize enormous amounts of data and stay ahead of the growing competition in this space.

Fitting DataOps into the picture

According to Seagate Technology’s recent Rethink Data report, companies need to find new ways to gain business value as the cloud continues to aggregate massive amounts of data. Enterprises of all sizes need a more integrated approach to data management, and DataOps – an emerging discipline designed to improve the speed, quality, and value of data analytics by connecting data creators with data consumers – is the missing piece of the puzzle.

DataOps means breaking away from traditional uses of data and widening a traditional data analytics approach to become more holistic. Instead of looking to data for answers to a problem seen as distinct from each other, which tends to create data silos, a DataOps approach helps businesses manage data from multiple parts of an enterprise effectively. The result is a data lake, which enables purposeful connections to be made between seemingly unrelated data elements.

For an e-commerce website powering a company’s web presence on Ramadan, that could mean finding insights on a problem that neither the data nor marketing team knew existed.

Companies looking to create this data lake need to streamline the relationship between CIOs and CMOs, because there are no insight-rich data lakes without solid communication between the CIO and the CMO. Companies looking to make their data more useful and agile can do so by excelling in the three M’s.

Managing the company

Consumers and businesses are creating more data daily, from endpoint and Internet of Things (IoT) devices to analysts and artificial intelligence (AI) generating reports and insights based on the data that is fed to decision-makers. With which CIOs and CMOs can work together so that their teams may gain a clear understanding of how and where the data is gaining in volume and what data should be collected from which sources.

Managing the talent

Rethinking data means rethinking talent: as CIOs and CMOs come together in collaboration, it will become more important to educate employees about the need for a coherent data strategy and how their roles fit into the picture.

Managing the processes

Taking data out of its proper consumer context can result in the mismanagement of data. The Rethink Data report found that tracking data across multi-cloud environments is the number one data management challenge for enterprise users. Managing hybrid clouds is the close second-largest issue. This was also an issue that we faced at Seagate. Our pilot DataOps model, code-named Project Green Arrow, enables the seamless automated movement of data from our factories to our data lakes in Singapore, where it is analyzed and transformed into actionable insights. Collaboration between our CIO and CMO helped the marketing team derive insights from the tests into a more broadly marketed mobile storage system that Seagate offered externally.

Amid an e-commerce boom increasingly integrated with data, closer collaboration between CIOs and CMOs will yield the valuable insights a business needs to succeed in an increasingly competitive landscape. Prioritizing this interdisciplinary relationship will help build teams of top talent, delivering the best results for a business.