3 Reasons Business Intelligence is Failing Digital Marketing Pros

rachel serpa sigma computing headshot

Rachel Sherpa

Director of Content Marketing, Sigma

Data is a must-have for modern marketers. You can’t do your job well or make smart decisions if you’re operating blind. And at a time when marketing spend is being scrutinized, optimizing your marketing’s performance is critical. You need to be able to analyze data coming in from a variety of sources to measure, justify, optimize, and forecast marketing initiatives.

But accomplishing this task isn’t easy. If you’re like most marketing professionals, you’re stuck waiting on your BI team to provide you with dashboards to answer your data questions. Because you need answers quickly and this process takes time, you may resort to a cumbersome and inadequate process using spreadsheets to work with the limited data you can access. If you do get your static dashboards in a timely manner, they may not fully answer your questions (or they may prompt additional questions), putting you back at square one.

In this post, we explore the top three reasons your current business intelligence solution is holding back your digital marketing efforts, and we make a case you can present to your leadership to get the tools you need to gain deeper insights, optimize your spend, and boost ROI.


Your BI team is overwhelmed, understaffed, and drowning in requests

Most marketing teams rely on business analysts and BI teams to generate reports, build dashboards, and answer ad hoc data questions that arise on the fly. If you’re frustrated with how long it takes to get the information you need, you’re not alone. Nearly every data team is backlogged due to the vast amount of data that they must mine to fulfill multiple daily requests for dashboards and reports.


of data experts say the average turnaround time for a data request is between one and four weeks

Source: Breaking Down the Data Language Barrier


say that’s because too few data analysts are expected to support too many business teams

Source: Breaking Down the Data Language Barrier


of data experts report feeling unfulfilled or very unfulfilled in their roles

Source: Breaking Down the Data Language Barrier

BI teams across industries and company sizes are facing similar challenges. According to our research, more than half (55%) of data experts say the average turnaround time for a data request is between one and four weeks. And 29% say that’s because too few data analysts are expected to support too many business teams. (28% claim C-level requests are given precedence over others and create a backlog, and 27% blame the bottlenecks on large data sets that are difficult and time-consuming to curate and analyze.) Based on this insight, you won’t be surprised to learn that more than a quarter (27%) of data experts report feeling unfulfilled or very unfulfilled in their roles.

While you may understand what’s causing BI bottlenecks, the fact is that you must receive necessary information promptly. Getting the data and visualizations you need days or weeks after you request them isn’t working. By the time you receive the information, the data is out-of-date, or your decision-making deadline has passed.

To learn more about why data bottlenecks are so common, check out

Data’s Inferno: How Data Teams Can Escape Report Factory Hell


Dashboards raise more questions

When you receive a static dashboard from the BI team, you often end up with more questions than answers. You need to know the cause behind a trend you’re seeing and identify the factors contributing to a problematic situation. To get answers to your follow-up questions, you’ll need another dashboard — which will likely raise other questions.

The back-and-forth takes days or weeks before you can get the insights you need for a single decision or plan. So you’re forced to move forward based on guesswork rather than data. You find yourself wishing you had access to the datasets and tools the BI team is using. But if your team is using a traditional BI tool, you couldn’t drill down into the underlying worksheets the dashboards are built from without SQL skills anyway. Hence, your marketing dashboards wind up being a stop sign rather than the starting point for analysis that they should be.


BI teams aren’t as close to the data or domain as marketers

Even if your BI team is better staffed than most and is able to respond to all of your requests in a timely manner, you still face challenges. BI teams’ expertise lies in analyzing data, not in marketing. They don’t understand the meaning of marketing data the way you do.

This problem exists in nearly every organization. In our survey, 82% of data experts admitted that their team’s lack of domain expertise (e.g., Salesforce field definitions, key marketing metrics, etc.) gets in the way of their delivering the most accurate or relevant data models or reports.

This lack of marketing expertise is especially problematic when you need to combine new datasets to get the whole picture of a given situation. And if you have follow-up questions that require looking at different information, the BI team may not necessarily know what datasets contain this information. It can take several iterations with the BI team before you get the right data in the right manner.

You need to be able to collaborate with your data team. Business intelligence expertise, combined with digital marketing expertise, will result in more accurate insights more quickly.


of data experts admitted that their team’s lack of domain expertise

See why collaboration is so valuable by reading

6 Benefits of a Collaborative Approach to Analytics and BI

A business intelligence tool for marketing

While we haven’t painted a pretty picture, there is a solution, and you can take action to solve the dilemma that results from a failed BI process.

To get the insights you need on time, you need access to data and a BI tool to do your own analysis. But, as we mentioned above, traditional BI tools are built for data professionals with deep data knowledge and SQL expertise, not marketers.

Sigma, on the other hand, is just as powerful as these traditional BI tools, but it doesn’t require coding or technical skills. Sigma gives you direct access to your company’s live data via a spreadsheet-like interface that converts your actions to SQL in the background.

Sigma’s internal Go-To-Market dashboard

With Sigma, you can join, analyze, and visualize all your cloud data warehouse’s marketing data, whether structured or semi-structured (like the JSON data generated by your CRM and marketing automation tools) — in real-time and with near-unlimited scale and speed. You can also create your own visualizations, including building interactive dashboards that can be drilled into so other users can answer their own questions.

And thanks to Sigma’s built-in collaboration tools, you can work with your BI team on more complex data analyses that require their expertise. (You can also easily collaborate in real-time with other internal teams and customers and partners if you wish.)

Learn more about how a modern marketing analytics platform like Sigma can empower your team

The Definitive Guide to Modern Marketing Analytics & BI.

Want in on what data can do for your team?

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