I have been watching the Olympics the last couple of weeks as well as writing a large number of reviews for our annual personnel review process. As I was doing so, it struck me how often the executives that I meet and work with want to know how their infrastructure compares with other companies. So, much like our review process, the first step may be a little self-evaluation. With that in mind here is a short 17 question assessment that you can perform to understand how your environment rates.The assessment will span three areas: data, tools and insights. The data section addresses the quality, completeness and accessibility of your analytics environment. The tools section examines the end-user features that your environment supports, and the insights section outlines key business drivers on which your environment helps you create perspective.

Figure 1: Data


Below Average


Above Average


New data is loaded once a month

New data is added weekly

New data is added daily


Some or most channels

Everything except online information

All channels


Detailed information for 13 months

Detailed information for 24-36 months

Detailed information for up to 60 months tailored based on how often data is accessed


Detailed data warehouse

Multiple data warehouse(s) or data mart(s) without standard data definition to permit easy merging

Detailed data warehouse and conforming data mart(s) with required aggregate structures

Data Quality

Match based on operating system keys

Cleanse operating system and perform customer consolidation routines on a monthly basis

Daily or real-time data cleansing routines and customer consolidation routines

Figure 2: Tools


Below Average


Above Average

Marketing Resource Management (MRM)

Excel and emails with attachments

Excel, Microsoft Project and some finance system interface

MRM tool that addresses finance, workflow and digital asset management

Business Intelligence/Reporting

Reports are produced weekly or monthly

Reports are produced daily, weekly or monthly and there is some mechanism to accomplish ad hoc analyses

Reports can be produced on demand and ad hoc analyses can be easily performed

Campaign Management

Specification are coded by and executed by IT

Leverage business intelligence or data mining solution to accomplish

Campaign management tool

Data Mining

Tool to create segmentations and models, all require coding skills

GUI tools to create models and segmentations.

Real-time heuristic engines integrated into operating systems

Content Management

Static pages

Personalization controlled by an IT tool user

Personalization controlled by a business tool user

Lead Management/ Sales Force Integration

Physical lists

Feeds into operating system

Integrated lead disposition mechanism


Bulk email mechanism

Some personalization; bulk email focus

Personalized email solution able to deal with volume of one

Figure 3: Insights


Below Average


Above Average

Behavior Propensity



Product and Offer


Demographic profiles

Single corporate behavior based

Multiple behavior-based segmentations for key corporate value drivers

Personalization/ Preferences/ Optimization

Product-centric or campaign-centric cutoffs

Customer-centric contact strategy

Tailored customer-centric contact strategy optimized based on value creation potential


Current profitability

Share of wallet

Lifetime Value

Investment Metric


Return on investment

Return on customer

I subtitled this column "Keeping Up with the Joneses" because some of the best advice that I can give executives is that newer, faster and shinier is not always better. It is tough when we all read articles, hear stories and attend conferences where every aspect of our analytics environment can be shown to be inferior to someone else's success story. At times like this it is hard to maintain your company self-esteem.

There are two things we should try to remember. One, examine the value of each investment in terms of how it will help improve the return on your customer portfolio. This will ensure that there is strategic business value and not just a desire to get that new, shinier and faster car that everyone notices. Two, if you are not satisfied by this objective standard, perform a secondary comparison to just your key competition within your industry. Very often what is being done across industries is not what is being done by leading-edge companies in yours. This nuance is not always clear when we read articles, attend conferences and hear stories that span industries.

All right, I have avoided the inevitable long enough. Let's talk ratings. Give yourself one point for each below average answer, two points for each average answer and three points for each above average answer. Feel free to give yourself half points if you are somewhere in between. Add your results. Happy ratings.

  • Less than 22: Hopefully customer intimacy is not required to be successful in your industry. If it is, you have a lot of work to do.
  • 22-31: It may be time to start putting together your multiple year plans.
  • 32-41 Selective investments should be examined. Prioritize your changes based on value.
  • Above 42: Are you leading edge or bleeding edge? Stay disciplined.

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