Don’t Overlook Marketing When Aiming for Data Monetization Success

big-data-keyboardAs an analyst covering data-integration and data-preparation technologies, I am inundated with functional marketing materials: “This is what TECHNOLOGY X can do,” “It extracts, it normalizes, it slices, it dices,” and so on, and so on. But while we analysts tend to focus on the “what” of Big Data integration technologies, it’s my mission to ensure we don’t overlook the “why.” A recent call with an enterprise healthcare technology services company provided some much appreciated perspective on why data-integration technology matters.

One stereotype of Big Data in the enterprise is that it’s tailored for internal consumption. “Think of the powerful insight!” they say. “Upper management will be able to make decisions faster!” But there’s so much more to it than that.

When we idealize data-monetization models, we tend to think from a product-management perspective, of using a data-integration or data-preparation technology to create a brand-new product that produces a brand-new revenue stream. But (say it with me) there’s so much more to it than that.

I’m currently researching data-monetization approaches–specifically, best practices in making money utilizing Big Data integration and preparation technologies. (Look for publication in the next month or so.) As part of that effort, I recently spoke with Ian Maurer, CTO at MediGain, a revenue cycle management and healthcare analytics company that provides billing and reimbursement services for healthcare providers across the United States.

We’ve written about MediGain before, both as an example of data monetization in the modern data-driven enterprise, and as an adopter of GoodData technology. I’m not looking to revisit our earlier analysis. Yes, MediGain gets it. The MediGain case study offers easily-quotable, eye-popping, and undeniably impressive metrics. (“Four-figure percentage ROI!” “Payback in one month!”) By any measure, MediGain’s implementation of GoodData has been an unbridled success.

In a nutshell, MediGain employed GoodData to improve–greatly improve–the reporting capabilities of its revenue cycle management services. At a superficial level, MediGain’s GoodData implementation resulted in a night-and-day reinvention of its customer-facing dashboards. The “before” seems blissfully archaic in retrospect: Offshore minions scramble to produce ad-hoc, static, utterly unscalable, and occasionally error-prone monthly reports. The after, is of course idyllic: Dynamic, on-demand (or at least near on-demand), accurate metrics are available to end users at any time. Customer impact has been dramatic, with one notable instance being that a customer can take immediate action based on live trending data instead of waiting until the next month to recognize and reactively address a (comparatively worsened) problem.

Why does the MediGain example matter beyond its phenomenal financial success? Because MediGain’s greatest benefit from its revamped Insights service is its corporate impact on marketing.

When it comes to data and data-related technologies, marketing value delivery is often overlooked, maligned, written off, or rationalized as an afterthought (especially if you’re not in a consumer-oriented industry). Believe me, I know–I’ve lived in that world where upper management often questions marketing’s relevance. (“We purchased our new data-integration technology to improve operations! Oh, and marketing gets slightly better web metrics.”)

MediGain doesn’t charge extra for its new service, but MediGain is still an ideal data-monetization example. MediGain Insights is now a powerful service differentiator. Maurer notes that MediGain’s dynamic dashboarding is unique in the RCM industry, and that most competitors can at best offer static monthly reports. At industry tradeshows, the marketing team puts the brightly-colored MediGain Insights dashboard front and center, and leads with it in marketing materials. In a data-world burdened by strict governance mandates, and in an environment not typically known for technical innovation, the MediGain marketing team is taking advantage of a powerful new tool in its arsenal. (Let’s be honest: marketing’s more fun when you have a cool thing to promote.)

Of course, the benefits are not limited to marketing. For the MediGain sales team, the new GoodData-enabled MediGain Insights service accelerates closing. (That’s particularly powerful when a sales cycle can exceed a year.) And dynamic data-services delivery has freed the MediGain BI team from its tedious data-munging and normalization labors to focus on–hold your breath–actual data analysis work. (Imagine that.)

MediGain has used GoodData technology to create a—for-now—defensible marketing advantage for the company. But how big an advantage is the new MediGain Insights? So big that MediGain competitors have asked to white-label the service. (According to Maurer, the MediGain team is still thinking about it.)

About Toph Whitmore

Toph Whitmore is a Blue Hill Research principal analyst covering the Big Data, analytics, marketing automation, and business operations technology spaces. His research interests include technology adoption criteria, data-driven decision-making in the enterprise, customer-journey analytics, and enterprise data-integration models. Before joining Blue Hill Research, Toph spent four years providing management consulting services to Microsoft, delivering strategic project management leadership. More recently, he served as a marketing executive with cloud infrastructure and Big Data software technology firms. A former journalist, Toph's writing has appeared in GigaOM, DevOps Angle, and The Huffington Post, among other media. Toph resides in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, where he is active in the local tech startup community as an angel investor and corporate advisor.
Posted on September 7, 2016 by Toph Whitmore

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