Data Driven Business Week / DemandCon: An Idiot’s Review

Frustrated Businessman

Frustrated-man11My kids are right: I’m an idiot. The first thing I did arriving on a late-night flight to San Francisco for Data Driven Business Week was leave my iPhone in the airline seat pocket.

Next morning, I emerged, digitally naked, from my hotel on Powell Street. No phone, no email, no idea of my calendar for the day and no map to get to the conference. I wandered crowded streets, past faceless people, until a homeless guy got two bucks for showing me that I was actually standing outside an Apple Store. Apple got the other $500.

A few minutes later, back out into the world with a lightness in my step and wallet, I hit Data Driven Business Week, a multi-conference combining Demand Con, Marketing Optimization Summit, Conversion Conference and Predictive Analytics World all under one roof.

Here are the tweet-lights from the show:

Sirius Decisions says buyers are now 67% of the way through the buying process before they meet with your sales people


Gartner say by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship without talking to a human @cahidalgo #demandcon



Marketers spend 9x more driving traffic to websites than on improving conversions @gregott @demandbase #demandcon



Re: marketing automation adoption “Many people buy a Cadillac but are using it like a Yugo.” – @MaribethRoss #DemandCon



Avg life of social media link is 3 hours @kippbodnar #demandcon



Great quote to pin to the wall: “Remove YOU from the story as much as possible.. it will travel farther.” @juntajoe #demandcon



But there was a word of warning here and one that could significantly hold back from the further promise of marketing automation, segmentation analytics, persona development and story telling at scale:


@tripkucera says 3 of 4 top reasons companies don’t have lead lifecycle mgt in place come down to skills gap #demandcon



This issue of skills, highlighted by Aberdeen’s Trip Kucera made me think of my Apple Store experience and the power of data-driven business and the people that make it work. It’s amazing to see how an IT company like Apple approaches the retail sales process. We are talking process, from the moment you step into the store. I was quickly triaged by one of those helpful, hip blue-shirts who led me to Specialist Laura. It was all familiarly efficient. Familiar, because this was my second visit to buy a phone in the past 10 days (yes, my lost phone was new.) Again, I was impressed with the rapid pecks on iPhone’s apps, integrating accounts, deciding options and then the best part — the finger signature. No check-out counter, no lines, no sales terminals.

Smiling, Laura set the phone up for me. I knew how to do it of course, as I’d gone through the exercise just days before, but I let her. I asked her about the technology and how much training they had to undergo. She said it was a continual process and, with a laugh, told me that it’s harder to get into Apple than Stanford!

My take-away from Apple and from Data Driven business Week is that the rewards for getting it right are enormous but that it takes people, people.

(However, it looks like Apple has the Stanford graduate intake thing all sewn up… you’ll have to recruit from elsewhere!)