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Brian Himstedt on how to invest in martech to drive value

Discover key takeaways from the insightful discussion between Chris Sell and Brian Himstedt on "Marketing, From the Source," where they delve into topics like cloud data stacks, scalable investments, and Brian's unique background in marketing and IT consulting.

Julia Parker

Julia Parker

In a recent episode of “Marketing, From the Source”, our own co-founder Chris Sell welcomed Brian Himstedt, the innovative Chief Information Officer of the Kansas City Royals, to share his unique insights and experience. 

The two discussed a range of topics–including Brian’s background in both Marketing and IT consulting, how businesses can navigate a move to a cloud data stack, and how to make investments with scalability in mind.

Read on for more key takeaways from the episode:

How to Make Meaningful Investments 

Brian shared his insights on making meaningful decisions when investing in technology and moving to the modern data stack. As a CIO, he highlighted the common challenge of resource constraints and the importance of allocating resources to activities that drive tangible business impact.

For the Royals, moving to the cloud was a strategic decision to utilize reliable technologies that are scalable and capable of generating business results independently. Brian emphasized the advantages of relying on technology providers over attempting to manage all aspects of technology in-house. This is particularly critical for small or resource-constrained businesses, as leveraging established technology providers can optimize resource allocation and allow for increased focus on core business areas. By partnering with leading technology providers, businesses can achieve greater scalability and drive desired outcomes.

Additionally, Brian shared his perspective on how partnering with the right technology provider can introduce new functionalities that streamline processes across a team, thereby freeing up valuable resources to focus on higher-value initiatives.

Do You Really Need a Customer 360?

When considering a transition to a cloud data stack, businesses frequently grapple with the question of which customer data to migrate and why. Brian provided his insights on effectively navigating this process to obtain a comprehensive customer view.

"I think Customer 360 implies or distracts you by suggesting that you have to paint this comprehensive picture of a customer before you can begin to drive results." Brian Himstedt, CIO at Kansas City Royals.

The idea of a perfect Customer 360 can sometimes hinder businesses from deriving value from their data, as teams may become overly fixated on achieving a comprehensive view of the customer across all channels and touch points. In reality, building a complete customer profile is a time-consuming process that can exhaust significant team resources and may never result in a truly complete profile.

Investing significant resources in building a complete Customer 360 before deriving value goes against the 80-20 rule, which emphasizes identifying the most productive inputs and prioritizing them for maximum impact.

Quote from Brian Himstedt, "I need a Customer 72- let's start there and then we'll build the other degrees of the circle."

The Importance of Gaining Buy-In

Brian emphasized the importance of focusing on deriving actionable insights from available data, rather than striving for a perfect Customer 360.

By focusing on a “Customer 72”–a smaller version of the full 360–teams can maintain buy-in from the rest of the organization and begin seeing results before reaching a final state of completion.

Maintaining leadership investment in a long-term project can be challenging but is crucial:

  • This buy-in can also inspire leadership to invest more in a project if they see results up-front
  • Keeps team members engaged and excited throughout the implementation
“I want the impactful things that I can position and leverage quickly to deliver the beginning results and then that helps me get buy-in from the organization so that we can continue down the path–maybe even expand the resources that we’re given to move down the path quicker.” Brian Himstedt, CIO of Kansas City Royals

Positive Culture Shifts 

When a business implements a cloud data stack, it can lead to culture shifts at an organizational level. By establishing pipelines that connect directly to the organization's single source of truth, insights can be obtained more quickly, enabling more timely business decisions.

The traditional approach of "reporting" that looks back at what has already happened can be transformed into a predictive modeling approach, which can provide valuable predictions for the future. However, if these reports are not delivered in a timely manner, they do not offer the level of benefit that organizations need to make strategic decisions.

“The timing to make meaningful decisions that influence outcomes is number one.” Brian Himstedt, CIO Kansas City Royals

Chris and Brian discussed the big picture impact of the cloud data stack on the organizational culture at the Royals. Brian explained how the team has shifted from analyzing static numbers to evaluating trends and projections on an ongoing basis. By doing so, they are able to measure the performance of their initiatives more effectively and focus on the overall impact. This change has reduced the number of historical conversations, enabling the team to stay focused on achieving results and taking next steps.

If you’re interested in watching the full conversation between Chris and Brian, you can view it here.

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