(US & Canada) | Data People Need to Come with Low Egos and Learn How Others Work — Genesco, VP and CDO

Deval Motka, VP and CDO at Genesco, speaks with Nazar Labunets, Product Marketing Manager at Ataccama, in a video interview about data challenges in the retail sector, driving business decisions with data, the role of data teams in making data work, cross-functional productive partnerships, and being goal-oriented.

Genesco is a leading Nashville-based specialty retailer and branded company with nearly 100 years of success selling footwear and accessories.

At the outset, Motka discusses data challenges from the lens of knowing the customer. She addresses the restriction around truly knowing what the customer is up to and what influences a customer.

Taking the instance of a Facebook ad, Motka shares that the company would not know if any new or existing customers saw the ad. However, through algorithms and mixed media modeling with data, the company can understand the impact of a media channel on customers.

Unlike Amazon and Zappos, most brick-and-mortar companies operating both online and offline face the challenge of attributing store investments to how people are being marketed online. She notes that it is a bigger issue and there will always be a lack of accuracy in that information.

Therefore, Motka says, it is critical to understand the business strategy, be confident in the purpose of information, and know how to take action on it. She stresses the importance of driving decisions on the marketing and product side using data.

Delving further, Motka urges organizations to have a thoughtful strategy on what to put on store shelves versus online. The strategy should involve broad allocation, region-based allocation, and personalization based on buying behavior.

Also, there are many such layers at the product level that can be peeled off using data, says Motka. However, data cannot function by itself and collaborations across functions are needed. It is the data person’s responsibility to collaborate cross-functionally to make data work, she adds.

When asked about the disconnect among functions when it comes to collaboration, Motka believes that the phrase “data is the glue” hints at a disconnect that data can resolve. She opines that it largely depends on having business support and the way the company operates.

While Motka finds regulatory businesses challenging, she feels at ease at retail because the opportunities with data are so massive that the challenges get hidden. She states that when other functions want to collaborate, one has to operate with an incrementality mindset.

While cross-functionality ensures all divisions are represented, it boils down to driving incremental value. She asserts it is the data person who is responsible for understanding the value being driven and adding to that.

For instance, Motka states that marketing and digital marketing have been around before data became the glue. Therefore, data people need to come in with low egos and learn how other functions work and eventually level up by adding value.

Motka explains how she operates with incrementality in use cases, measures it, makes it a force multiplier, and takes everyone for a ride.

Commenting on what productive partnerships across functions look like, she affirms that it depends on the organizational type and strategy. For example, if the organizational goal is increasing sales from digital channels, the partnership could be formed from the goal perspective.

Then, everybody gets a role to play, depending on where taking action is required. Motka discusses seeing organizations do Objective and Key Results (OKRs) that allow each function to have key results while working independently and meeting from the OKR lens.

Moving forward, Motka cautions against working without a goal and making anything a technical problem, however, to achieve business goals one would need to solve technical problems along the way.

To support her statement, Motka takes an example wherein the goal is to do more automated marketing on a specific platform. To achieve this goal, she suggests implementing a Customer Data Platform (CDP) that supports the marketing platform.

Again, Motka maintains that while a CDP can be used for various purposes, in this case, it is needed to improve the trustworthiness and quality of customer data to support automated marketing efforts.

This approach can help avoid confusion and ensure that technology investments are understood and supported by the business, says Motka. Additionally, the technology can be reused for future business initiatives as well.

In conclusion, Motka states that once the automated data sets drive marketing, it decreases supply chain processes or optimized analytics versions. As now the customer is known from a different viewpoint, she recommends people ponder upon their ways of taking the business for a ride.

CDO Magazine appreciates Deval Motka for sharing her industry insights with our global community.

Also Read
(US & Canada) VIDEO | The CDO Role Varies with Companies — Genesco VP and CDO
(US & Canada) | Data People Need to Come with Low Egos and Learn How Others Work — Genesco, VP and CDO

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