The Customer Data Imperative report, produced by Econsultancy in partnership with SAP Customer Experience, looks at the growing importance of harnessing customer data to underpin customer experience and ensure commercial success.

The report is based on a survey of more than 500 client-side marketers and digital professionals, and interviews with senior executives working at high-profile brands across a range of business sectors.

As part of this research, we have identified customer data ‘leaders’ who are defined by their ability to integrate different sources of customer data successfully, and to execute marketing activities based on customer insights. Another defining attribute of leaders is their ability to deliver the right experience across all stages of the customer journey.

Key findings

  • Marketers take control of customer data. Just over half (51%) of responding companies say that the marketing department is responsible for customer insight, including segmentation, customer lifetime value and voice of customer. Leaders are significantly more likely to give the marketing function primary responsibility for marketing logic/intelligence and data operations.
  • Importance of integration between business functions, and the democratisation of data. More than six in ten respondents cite ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ co-operation between marketing and other business functions – such as customer service, sales and commerce – when it comes to integrating data. Leaders are more than eight times more likely than their mainstream counterparts to strongly agree that they have a ‘culture that is conducive to an integrated approach to customer data’, and six times more likely to say that ‘non-specialists can gather and analyse customer data without requiring outside help’.
  • A unified tech infrastructure is vital to customer data success. A significant proportion (41%) of respondents cite disparate technology platforms as one of their three main challenges when trying to integrate and activate customer data, higher than for other barriers such as siloed organisational structure, poor processes, lack of ownership or lack of cooperation internally. Significantly fewer leaders report disparate technology platforms as one of their three most significant challenges when it comes to integrating and activating customer data. Furthermore, customer data leaders are 11 times more likely to report they ‘spend enough on marketing technology to fulfil their marketing objectives’.
  • Bridging the capabilities gap. Nearly nine in ten (89%) respondents rate a data-driven and transparent marketing process as ‘critical’ or ‘important’, yet less than half this percentage (44%) describe their organisation’s capability in this area as ‘optimised’. Similar gaps are evident for other important commercial, technical and operational capabilities.



As well as those who took part in our online survey, Econsultancy would like to thank the following people for their additional insights:

  • Peter Evia-Rhodes, Head of Engagement, Retention & Operations, TNL Group (The Times & Sunday Times)
  • Dan Gilbert, Director of Data, News UK Technology, TNL Group
  • Margaret Jobling, Group Chief Marketing Officer, Centrica
  • Matt Lovell, Head of Customer Data, Insight & Analytics,
  • Ciaran McClellan, Director of Ecommerce and Analytics, Long Tall Sally
  • Elaine Roberts, CMO, Lloyds Register
  • Chris Thorn, Director of Digital and Customer Experience, British Heart Foundation