The number of marketing technology tools is rising at a staggering rate, having nearly doubled YOY in 2016. On average, 51% of organizations use 21 or more digital marketing solutions. While having the ability to access all this new information provides unprecedented insight, it frequently results in an overload of data siloed in disparate systems. Marketers are buried under a landslide of fragmented campaign metrics, products, customers, purchases, and more. And there’s seemingly no end in sight; Gartner reports that 50-65% of marketing executives plan to spend more on marketing technology in the coming year. To make meaningful use of all this data, metrics need to be reviewed cohesively. Without a full holistic view, it’s impossible to get a complete understanding of the real story. Only analyze existing customer behavior and you may miss out on opportunities to attract new audiences. Only review site traffic from media placements, and you lack an understanding of why your customers are loyal to your brand, or how to create more of them. The problem is that most marketing teams don’t operate with systems that talk to each other. They end up trying to manually analyze disparate data points to uncover insights, a practice that is neither scalable nor responsive in real-time. This data fragmentation is costing marketers real dollars as they lose the ability to effectively optimize campaigns and fold learnings into future plans. An example of how some marketing departments utilize data today: The solution begins with creating a connected data ecosystem. The concept is simple—collect all data points into a centralized system able to analyze them en masse and surface actionable insights in real-time. Using those insights, marketers can then start to roll out personalized content, translate strategies across all channels, and efficiently improve customers’ experiences. While the initial creation of the connected data ecosystem can be time-consuming, it pays off. One example: Annuitas Group reports that businesses that use marketing automation to nurture prospects report a 451% increase in qualified leads. Based on our experience with building ecosystems for clients, we have created a four-step process that we follow: Discovery: we assess all the various systems that are collecting data around your organization. We also identify areas where the data returned may be less than perfect in quality–a very common occurrence. During this period we also outline the shared objectives and definitions of success across all the stakeholders. Solution design: using our learnings from the Discovery period, we design a customized solution that aligns to your business objectives. We build a roadmap using multiple analytic approaches across our four service categories: Performance analytics, marketing sciences, research, and business intelligence. Analyze: This is where the magic happens. Now that we’ve designed your ideal system, we begin to collect the data and review the outputs using our team of data analysts, statisticians, and social scientists to uncover those insights that will truly give your business the competitive edge. Insights: This is when our team works with marketers and other members of your organization to communicate our findings and share recommended actions to meet your KPIs. Once the initial foundation is built, this process can be repeated multiple times over the course of the year, ensuring your teams are always up to date on the latest findings and fully able to use fresh data to inform future plans. The creation of a connected data ecosystem takes some effort but pays off almost immediately by making teams run more efficiently with a full understanding of the current state of their business and what levers they have to achieve their goals.