B2B marketers love data. Marketing was one of the first business functions to put big bets on analytics and automation, and today, the best B2B marketing campaigns are driven by data. It might not always be complete or accurate, but data helps talented marketers set the general direction of their campaigns and pin their instincts on something tangible.
But what if marketers could easily access trusted data (and lots of it) and use that data to deliver better results?
What if they could uncover new insights hidden in data throughout the business – and use them to create hyper-personalised content and more effective campaigns?
What if they could imagine possible futures for their campaigns and quickly test their hypotheses to see what works?
Well, in a data mesh, they can.
What’s a data mesh? And why should marketers care?
In large, complex organisations with monolithic data architectures, accessing timely, relevant insights can be a laborious process. It relies on specialist data teams to drag insights kicking and screaming out of a central data lake.
The data mesh approach helps overcome these difficulties by decentralising the data architecture and making each domain (marketing, sales, product, etc.) the owner of the data it produces. It’s an approach that’s been growing in popularity over the last few years (which explains why tech consultancies often ask us to write about it) as large enterprises look for ways to reduce organisational and operational complexity.
In a data mesh, the people closest to the data are responsible for managing it and using it to create “data products” that solve their most pressing issues or open up new opportunities.
Federated data ownership removes the operational bottlenecks of centralised structures, so marketers can access and use data how they need to, when they need to. And with data products visible and accessible on a self-service platform, everyone can access products built by other domains and combine them in useful new ways.
New marketing opportunities – and responsibilities – in the data mesh
The data mesh approach empowers marketers to cut out the middleman and start experimenting with their data to find ways to improve content and campaign results. When data users become data owners, the possibilities are limitless.
Marketers who build and own data products can understand their customers and prospects better than ever. They can optimise their campaigns on the fly and conduct low-risk, high-reward experiments with different approaches. They can even begin to create the kind of hyper-personalised content and communications that most marketers can only dream of.
More than most business functions, marketing thrives on data from across the organisation. Insights from sales, service, product, R&D, manufacturing, supply chain, and more can all add valuable context to marketers existing knowledge about their customers.
With a data mesh approach, marketers can easily access data products from other business functions to quickly create new capabilities. For example, combining product and sales data products with a customer-intent data product might help marketers target specific prospects with campaigns that are more likely to land.
But before we get too carried away, it’s important to remember that federated ownership also means federated responsibility. In a data mesh, every domain is a data custodian, so marketing becomes responsible for the governance, compliance, and quality of its data.
Meaningful change takes time
Adopting a data mesh approach requires a fundamental cultural shift; it’s a completely different way of thinking about data and how it’s managed, governed, and used.
This shift in mindset includes a switch to what technologists call “product thinking”, where success is defined by the outcomes products deliver, rather than the outputs of projects. It might also require changes in how teams are structured and how they operate. And it will certainly involve fostering a new culture of cross-functional collaboration, as different business units contribute to combined data products.
It’s not something that happens overnight, and it can take years for large organisations to successfully embed the data mesh approach. But if you’re looking for a long-term, strategic approach to getting more bang for your marketing buck, data mesh could be a conversation worth having with your colleagues in IT and elsewhere in the business.
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