Guest post by Jon Finegold, founder of Digital Jolt
One of the benefits of my role as a CMO for hire is that I get to work with a variety of companies across many different industries. Part of the fun for me is getting up-to-speed on new markets, learning new tech and, of course, working with a wide variety of amazing entrepreneurs. While each business is unique, there are challenges which are common across many. One that is not only common but also growing is how to get answers to questions from the massive amounts of data that is pouring in from all angles.
We track everything today. Every click, every email open, every call, scroll, tap, purchase, share and like. Let’s face it marketers have become stalkers trying to predict the moves of buyers as they traverse the internet across all their devices. As marketers we benefit from hundreds of powerful web services that are available to automate tasks and create efficiencies. CRM systems, marketing automation, billing, support ticketing systems, email marketing, web tracking, social media tools, ad platforms – the list goes on and on. Each service is powerful but the data they produce is siloed and comes in a wide variety of formats.
This results in seemingly simple questions turning into month long goose chases as we try to track down all the different data sources, organize it and run queries. For instance, the answer to a simple question such as “who are your best customers” might pull data from several places as “best” might be defined differently by different groups:
- “Best” to sales maybe defined by shortest sales cycles (CRM data)
- “Best” to support would be defined by who asks the fewest questions (Ticketing system data)
- “Best” to marketing might be who shares the most (Social, Referral or Marketing Automation data)
- “Best” to finance might be who pays on time (billing data) or who costs the least and is the most profitable (DevOps data for a SaaS business, project accounting for a services company, etc.)
- “Best” for the company would likely be a combination of all those things
That simple question means pulling data from all those sources, organizing it and running queries that join data from files in many different formats, some structured, some not. And that’s just one simple question. As data-driven marketers we ask much more complex questions every day.
To make sure we can answer questions that may come up in the future we’ve developed a “track it now, deal with it later” mentality. This data exhaust piles up quickly making it difficult to even know what you have data or how to sort through it. The question of where and how to store the data has been answered by cloud object storage services such as Amazon S3. The question of how to make sense of it is the challenge being addressed by Chaos Sumo. Chaos Sumo offers a service to turn your Amazon S3 into an intelligent data lake by using machine learning to help you understand your data, organize and group it automatically and provide tools to run queries that help you get fast insights without having to move files, clean data or stand up expensive analytics scaffolding. They are at the beginning of their journey (sign up for the free beta here) but if they deliver on their promise, you will surely be able to count me as one of their best customers.