Data-driven marketing sounds promising.

But what kind of decisions can be made if the data you use is more than a week old, has been picked through to fit into a PowerPoint or derived from only one data source?

Not very good ones.

Ask Heather Zynczak, Chief Marketing Officer at Domo. In her previous job she used to beg the IT department for data. When the report arrived every other week she was grateful to receive the "pathetic little scraps” of data inside, because it was all she could access.

Born of Necessity

To say Domo was born of this frustration would be to oversimplify things, but it did play a part. Josh James founded the American Fork, Utah-based company after selling his previous company, Omniture, to Adobe for $1.8 billion.

In spite of being the founder and CEO of Omniture, James found he had limited access to business critical information. He had to call one person to get the cash balance of the company, HR to get the payroll, even checking public information to double-check figures. 

The company has been in “stealth mode” since its founding, though it hasn't been too successful at flying under the radar. It’s received $250 million from investors, with the latest funding round completed in February resulting in the company being valued at $825 million. Want to take it out for a test drive? You’ll have to sign a non-disclosure agreement first.

Zynczak said that what sets Domo apart is its “connectors.”  The platform currently connects to hundreds of applications through APIs. It pulls structured and unstructured data from the cloud or on premises -- think your CRM data, your marketing automation data, your web analytics and throw in your LinkedIn, your Facebook, your Twitter -- into one customizable view. This can be done “with one click” said Zynczak, usability being a main driver in the creation of the platform.

Zynczak called the platform “intuitive,” providing all of the analytics without the bells and whistles (though those are available for power users) to the people who need to make the decisions. Domo is SaaS, so the data is accessible via smartphone, tablet, desktop. The data updates in real time.

Zynczak told the story of a retail company whose store managers use Domo to compare point of sales across locations on a minute by minute basis -- their nickname for Domo is "the trash talking app."

What's In It for Marketers

Of the initial 500 customers the company reports, Zynczak said that a large percentage is made up of marketers and marketing departments. She cited several reasons for this:

Learning Opportunities

Marketers Need to Be Numbers Driven

Marketers are being held responsible to prove the value and worth of campaigns. But many marketers do not have access to all of the data they need and when they do receive the data, it's out of date. As Scott Brinker wrote in a Chief Marketing Technologist blog, "Most data has a relatively short shelf life, particularly in marketing."

Domo surveyed 301 marketers last fall and reported over half (59 percent) of those surveyed complained of the length of time it took to receive data and only 37 percent said they were able to access data in real time. Half said that the data they received missed key information. Zynczak said:

You can make a mistake looking at just one source of data or an incomplete view of the data. And this is the challenge we're now facing as B2B marketers .... When you look at all of those (web analytics, marketing automation, CRM reports) in isolation, you will make the wrong decision."

By giving marketers the ability to connect the disparate sources of customer data and view changes on a minute to minute basis, Zynczak said Domo makes it possible to follow where the marketing dollar goes through every stage of the customer journey.

Data Lets You Experiment

Some people fear that data-driven marketing removes the pixie dust of creativity from marketing. Zynczak was asked "How do you measure the value of a handshake?" by another CMO on a conference panel. She doesn't see the two as being mutually exclusive.

Data allows you to be a better marketer. I can argue all day with my creative director if it's good creative or not. But you know what? It doesn't matter what we think -- go test ... and let the numbers tell us." 

This is part of the change taking place in the marketing field. But Zynczak thinks it is in the combination of experience and then testing to prove if "your gut was right" that frees marketing departments to experiment, cut unnecessary expenditures and beef up high performing areas.  

Peer pressure can cause people to do things because they think they ought to. Marketers currently feel a lot of pressure to be data savvy. But having data on hand isn’t enough. Zynczak cautioned against running headlong into a data-driven frenzy, saying it's time to be "more strategic." Marketers need to be establish goals in advance, then set into place the data gathering to measure activity against those goals. 

Gartner's Outlook for Business Intelligence

In its most recent Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms, Gartner reported the BI market reached $14.1 billion in 2013. Gartner also identified 2014 as "a critical year in which the task of making 'hard types of analysis easy' for an expanded set of users," and sees an uptick of interest in cloud-based BI deployments and self-service data integration. 

With $250 million in funding to back it and a check list of the above requirements, Domo looks primed to come out of stealth and stake its place in the market.