Anatomy of an Award Winning Data Project Part 1: CSC and Marketing Analytics

Here at Keboola, we take pride in working closely with partners and customers ensuring that each project is a success. Typically we’re there from the beginning - to understand the problem the client needs to solve; to help them define the scope and timeline of the implementation; to provide the necessary resources to get buy in from the rest of their team; to offer alternative perspectives and options when mapping out the project; and to be their ally and guide throughout every step of the process. With all that work, all that dedication, it turns out we develop quite a soft spot for both our clients and their projects. 

We’ve got skin in the game, so when one of our clients receives an award because of the project we worked on together, we get pretty excited. And when two clients receive an award because of our work together, well, then we’re downright ecstatic and ready to celebrate!

At the end of 2015, two customers were honored for their commitment to data innovation. Firehouse Subs® was awarded the Hospitality Technology Innovation Award and the digital marketing team at Computer Science Corporation (CSC) for the ITSMA Diamond Marketing Excellence Award.

Since new partners and clients often ask us to explain what components and environment cultivate a successful data project, we thought we’d take this exceptional opportunity to ask our customers themselves: Danny Walsh, Director of Reporting and Analytics, Firehouse Subs and Chris Marin, Senior Principal, Digital Marketing Platform & Analytics, CSC.

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll share each of their stories and explain how we feel these separate use cases in two distinctly different industries are reflective of what we at Keboola view as the ideal conditions for creating a wildly successful - award-winning even - data project.

Let’s start with Chris Marin at CSC. For those of you that don’t know, CSC is a company that actually helps its customers make their own journey to data innovation. To learn more about what they do, check out this awesome infographic they put together. 

As you might imagine, given CSC’s business, it’s pretty critical that they drink their own champagne, so to speak, and maintain focus on their own innovation. We’re proud to be a part of that journey.

Here are the stats:

CSC’s “Global Marketing Dashboard”

Purpose: Consolidate performance of various marketing channels into one easy-to-use dashboard available to wide audience within CSC sales and marketing teams
Delivery method: Dashboard accessible as stand-alone application and/or via SFDC
Data sources: SFDC, Eloqua, Conductor, Adobe Social, Adobe Analytics and a bucket of others. 50+ data sources in total! 
Project Lead (champion): Chris Marin, Senior Principal, Digital Marketing Platform & Analytics CSC
Executive Sponsor: Nick Panayi, Head of Digital Marketing and Global Brand, CSC
Solution Architect: Adam Hu, Keboola
Award Details: http://www.itsma.com/2015-marketing-excellence-award-winners/

To learn more about the project, first we asked Chris to provide a little context into the problem we were solving and the vision of the solution.

Keboola: What was the overall objective for the project?
Chris: To consolidate complicated ecosystem of 50+ tools into a single location for KPI’s and insights

How did you expect users would benefit  and why would they “bother”?
Having all of the key details in one place is a great time saver so folks don’t have to hunt down metrics in a bunch of different systems. We also save them a great deal of time and effort that would traditionally go into Excel/PowerPoint work to generate periodic reports.

Did the process lead you to make any changes to the vision along the way? How do you see those in retrospect?
My team at CSC has been using agile methodologies for many years. As such my expectation was that this project would be no different. Marketing stacks and the data therein is in constant flux and therefore to think that one can dream up exactly what will be needed a year or even six months hence seems almost ridiculous-a quaint echo of a bygone era when the pace was so much slower.  With that said, well thought out solutions and models can be adapted to meet changing needs and overall I’m quite pleased with the evolution of our project.

We also wanted to learn a little about the future. Now that the project has been so successful thus far, what next?

What do you see as next steps, what are the learnings so far?
There will certainly be an even greater focus on predictive as our models and understanding of the data deepens.  I think the greatest shock usually comes from outsiders that join our company and see that it is indeed possible to have a centralized view of marketing’s activities that spans multiple disciplines even in a sprawling global corporation such as ours.

We’re big believers that the people involved will make or break a project, so we made sure to ask Chris about who was involved and how they helped.

As the Project Champion and carrier of the vision, how did you get involved?
I am in charge of CSC’s Digital Marketing Ecosystem & Marketing Analytics so this type of project naturally falls under my remit.  Beyond that however, I find that these types of complex projects with lots of moving parts and many systems are usually quite a bit of fun to work on. There are the technical aspects that need to be cared for but just as important are the user experience side of things and the business ones as well, such as establishing sensible KPIs.

What did your Keboola Architect provide to the process?
Adam Hu is the Solution Architect that has been with us since the inception of this project and I can say without a doubt that he has made invaluable contributions to our success.  This is not simply a role where one implements the client’s ideas.  The ideal architect acts as both a sounding board and an innovator in their own right once they begin to truly comprehend the particular’s of a client’s setup and needs. In our case Adam has met these goals admirably.

Woohoo! Kudos to Adam!

What kind of executive and corporate support did you get before, during and after the project’s completion?
In many ways Marketing is still in the process of establishing itself as a science with a firm foundation in data and clear and measurable business results.  Therefore any endeavours which help to clearly communicate the value of Marketing that is tied to explicit business objectives is generally well received, at least at this company.  Executives and others are clamouring for this type of clarity.

Who else was involved (across the companies), what were their roles?
Having specialists from each discipline-Demand Generation, ABM, Social, Content, Web, Events, Industry/Regional/Offering Marketing and all the rest participate in the creation of KPIs is critical.  These are the experts that truly understand their respective domains and what is worth measuring. Obviously these are ongoing discussions-KPIs sometimes need to be retired, changed or recalibrated such as after the organizational restructures or when new initiatives are put in place.  Beyond that there is always a role for training and support to help get folks up to speed on what we are measuring and why it matters.

The critical component to every project is whether or not people actually use it.

Following implementation, what has been the rate of adoption and support for ongoing usage and development?
There are thousands of employees that now have access to this project, either directly via GoodData or within Salesforce.  Usage rates seem to be increasing.

We have our own opinions as to what mix project elements will lead to great success, but we always ask our clients what they think was the critical component for their individual use case. With this question, we learn a lot about their particular environment and that feedback makes it easier to help future customers achieve the same award-winning results.

In your view, what was the key component that made this project so successful?
This project was really built in a very collaborative manner.  From the C-Suite to Marketing, Operations and the Reporting & Analytics departments, all had a hand in the development of the dashboard and the metrics that were used to measure performance.

Hopefully, Chris's perspective has given you some insight into the elements that make a data project with Keboola not just successful, worthy of an award. We'll continue this conversation with Part 2 of our Anatomy of an Award Winning Data Project series when we get into the details with Danny Walsh of Firehouse Subs. Find that post here

5 responses
Great success story of collaboration between CSC and Keboola: 'Analytics as a journey', which will probably continue with increasing analytics insights and adoption rates across CSC. Natural next step will probably lead from descriptive to predictive and finally prescriptive analytics components - easier said than done, of course, considering plethora of data sources and stakeholders to manage. Analytics framework/roadmap helps to manage complex analytics projects, some complementary thoughts on Marketing Analytics Framework: https://channels.theinnovationenterprise.com/ar...
Bruno, thanks for the comment. We definitely agree about analytics being a journey. It's an ever-evolving process. The real value of KBC is the ability to consistently enhance the experience for analytics teams, IT and most importantly end-users. The KBC App Store enables BI teams to quickly add advanced functionality like data enrichment, basket analysis, natural language processing, predictive capabilities, new data sources...the list goes on. We power the journey. We're the Gandalf to the users' Frodo, so to speak.
Thank you Kasey, I am a Keboola fan and can see the list of capabilities growing - in terms of enhanced functionality, also addressing multiple functions across target organizations - IT, Operations, Digital, Marketing, Sales, which certainly helps, as Keboola intends to drive the holistic/comprehensive view of data sources across the target organization, remove siloes and thus increase the chances of actual 'insights' and subsequent sharing of these = effective collaboration. Keep me in the loop, look forward to seeing more success stories. Bruno
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