marketers_customer_dataAn elite group of senior marketers from across the Asia-Pacific region met this week to discuss the findings of a new study on how companies can engage with customers in a more personal, relevant, and valued way by being more adept at big data analytics.

For this, the CMO Council teamed with analytics software leader SAS to assess the state of customer intelligence in the Asia-Pacific region. It conducted in-depth interviews with more than 30 senior marketers at leading banks, insurance carriers, communications service providers, utilities, travel and hospitality companies, as well as media and publishing groups across Southeast Asia, China, Australia, and New Zealand. Also included were regional market questions from its annual "State of Marketing" audit, involving hundreds of online survey respondents worldwide.

The CMO Council's 45-page strategic brief, dubbed "Improve Every Marketing Move," can be sourced from the CMO Council website at (

Not surprisingly, marketers report being overwhelmed by growing volumes of customer data emanating from research, retail, Internet, social media, financial, company help desks/call centers, and internal line of business sources. This veritable treasure trove of customer insight is now offering them new ways to improve the customer experience, increase satisfaction, engender loyalty, and be more responsive to the needs and requirements of their different customer segments. Most, however, are still playing catch-up with new sources of customer intelligence in an Internet-connected, social media-driven and mobile device-dependent Asia-Pacific market.

Asia's population of nearly 4 billion people in 35 countries accounts for 56% of the world's population and nearly 45% of the world's Internet user base, a total of 1,016,799, 076 people (Internet World Stats). Top Internet access countries in Asia include China (513 million), India (100 million), Japan (99 million), Indonesia (39 million), and South Korea (39 million). In terms of penetration, Australia is one of the leaders (just behind South Korea) in the Asia-Pacific region, with more than 17 million users, or 80.1% of the population.

An estimated 2.6 billion mobile phones are activated in the Asia-Pacific region (Enotes), representing a penetration of more than 65%. Some 400 million Asians have access to the mobile Internet, notes the Asia Digital Marketing Yearbook, and there are well over 200 million Facebook members in Asia representing some 25% of the social media leader's 900 million users worldwide.

When it comes to improving the customer experience through better market listening, responsiveness, and leveraging of data and actionable insights, most of the region's senior marketers felt they were not there yet, but working toward it. It is definitely considered a key area of focus and priority, but the ability to execute internally against the end goal is still in question.

Most marketers said they had corporate cultures that were more product-centric and operationally driven. As a result, the use of business intelligence data was being applied in these areas rather than meeting the needs of the customer. However, the desire and intention is growing, and marketers are optimistic that they can make big improvements in shaping and influencing the customer experience through better actionable insights and analytics.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia, which has nearly 11 million customers, is looking to improve marketing and maximize response by delivering loan offers and financial service products to the right customer, at the right place, and at the right time, notes its head of analytics Geoffrey Kerry.

Similarly, Kittisak Eh Chuei, Director of Loyalty Marketing at the Pan Pacific Hotels Group in Singapore, is using analytics to identify trends between different sets of customers across diverse regions and countries, so the hospitality leader can understand and anticipate booking behavior, handle any negative feedback in a more timely way, and provide more personal and attentive service.

"The Asia-Pacific region is doing business on a massive scale, and our marketing members see real value in using high-performance data analytics to be more targeted, personal, and timely in their communications so they can not only more efficiently acquire, but also grow, customer relationships," notes Donovan Neale-May, Executive Director of the CMO Council, whose members control more than $300 billion in annual aggregated marketing spend.

Bill Lee, SAS Country Leader Singapore, says "Marketers overwhelmed by the volume and variety of their customer data can now make sense of it with SAS Customer Intelligence. The sooner you know something the sooner you can act on it. To add further velocity and value from intelligence, SAS can now help you translate adequate answers into actionable insights to address business challenges faster than your competitors with the launch of SAS® High Performance Analytics."

(Source: CMO Council)