Signal Global Strategic Consulting: Turning Big Data into Big Action

May 06, 2015

Ana Milicevic
Ana Milicevic

Two weeks ago, Signal formally announced the launch of its Global Strategic Consulting Practice. Ana Milicevic joined Signal late last year to build the practice, which will help brands that are building out their cross-channel marketing capabilities.

I spoke with Ana about this new business unit at Signal, and what it means for our current and future customers. To learn more, sign up for today’s webinar, when Ana will be joined by Drew Wahl of AKQA to discuss five ways you can reach the always-on consumer.

LW: Why is dealing with cross-channel so hard for companies?

AM: Cross-channel marketing is a very rapidly changing space. Tablets didn’t exist five years ago. But if you’re, say, a retailer, how your customers interact with your store on a tablet is now a significant portion of what keeps you up at night. Same goes for folks in other verticals. We’ve all been rewriting the marketing book since the iPhone ushered in the smartphone era a few years before that.

Marketers have been adapting to this quick pace of innovation by adding on technologies here and there. But consumers’ behaviors and expectations for marketers have changed even more rapidly.

Consumers expect experiences to just work. If you’re still messaging someone to buy a plane ticket they’ve already bought for days on end, that’s not doing anything positive for your brand. It’s actually hurting your brand image. Yet, since you’re dealing with a variety of siloed systems, making sure that relevant information is available at the point of customer interaction in real time is a lot more complex than it might sound to the consumer.

You bring a depth of experience in marketing technology and data. How will your team help current and prospective clients of Signal?

Over the last 16 years, I’ve been on all sides of the marketing ecosystem: I’ve worked with early stage startups all the way through the largest companies in the world, like Adobe and SAS. With that experience, I’ve navigated different challenges at different points along the way. One thing I’ve witnessed is the commonality in the problems and challenges marketers face— challenges that transcend industry verticals.

The marketing ecosystem is becoming increasingly complex: Signal’s research shows that marketers use an average of 12 different technologies in their marketing stack—and 9% use more than 30 technologies! If marketers could build a marketing tech stack from scratch today, it would likely look very different than the evolutionary one they have.

The key to keeping up with your always on-customers isn’t adding more point solutions; it’s really about having an overall strategy that works. I’ll be focused on helping marketers extract more value from their current technology investments while working with them to build actionable and tangible roadmaps for the future.

What type of engagement does your practice typically tackle?

We’re helping to move the industry from the idea “every company is a unique company” to the reality: Data is a discipline. There are certain key processes you need to undertake when you’re building your data-driven marketing strategy.

We have developed a data maturity model that our customers can use to understand where they are now, and where they should invest to ensure they’re able to execute on their strategic goals. We cover everything from evaluating your current data state (How complete are your customer profiles? What would be the value of expanding your known audience?) to data governance design, data roadmap development, ROI analysis, etc.

We typically start with a data audit and then build a data roadmap. We look at people, process, and technology—not just Signal’s technology, but how it all fits together in the marketing stack, as well as any other areas the client can be exploring for short- and long-term gains.

Some clients might need assistance with a specific business problem, like the business impact of operationalizing their first-party data. Or it might be something all-encompassing, like advising on their data strategy. We can also answer questions like: Should we be looking at our programmatic investments?

We can start small with our clients, and get as complex as we need. 

And you also offer workshops? 

Yes, we do. Education and talent shortage is a common issue for companies trying to get their data to the next level. I co-chair IAB’s Data Council as well as the NYC chapter of the Digital Analytics Association, and it’s clear across both organizations that this is a pretty universal problem. We’ve developed a set of two-hour and half-day workshops that take a practical approach to common challenges: how to structure a data-driven team, how to calculate the value of your first-party data, and how to prepare for future data challenges like the Internet of Things.

This space is so new and evolving rapidly—unless your teams have dealt with a specific problem in an earlier role, it’s very hard to learn to solve it on their own. Investing in training is very important, and we’re in a unique position to leverage our experiences and share best practices.

Ana and her team are available to speak with Signal’s clients. Join today’s webinar—or watch the recording—for more information on Signal Global Strategic Consulting.

Signal Global Consulting Webinar

Laurel Wamsley

Laurel Wamsley was the Marketing and Communications Manager at Signal, and the editor of Signal's blogs. She worked previously at the University of Chicago, Rackspace, and NPR.