To data or not to data? The ultimate IMC dilemma

When encountering the world of numbers, there are typically two groups of people. The first group comprises of individuals that enjoy numbers and thrive on logic, calculations and analytics. The second group contains the ones that want to bolt the moment numbers are placed in front of them. Now, I am someone who falls into the second category, mainly because mathematics has never been a strong suit of mine. When I was a student last year, I somehow managed to stay away from data classes outside of the requirements. Of the classes I did take, Statistics felt like learning a new language and Strategic Process was undoubtedly challenging at times. Months later, I reflected on my IMC experience and realized that despite my struggles, I learned more from those two classes than I gave myself credit for. In fact, I found an analytical side to me that I never believed existed.

Integrated Marketing Communications is a large umbrella that encompasses all kinds of areas like branding, content, media, strategic communications, digital experiences, social interaction and analytics. While we all have our strengths in marketing and communications, we cannot forget the key word “integrated,” which means all these areas are linked together. Northwestern’s definition of Integrated Marketing Communications includes the phrase “combines qualitative understanding of consumers with large-scale analytics to develop communications and content that build and maintain strong brands.” The second half of this sentence entails the quantitative side of marketing and communications. In order to really become experts in our field, we need to derive insights from both the qualitative and quantitative. To discover patterns, we must figure out where they overlap.  

We all know the emergence of big data is a trend that is been developing over the past decade. Collecting data is not the problem (in fact, the amount of data available beyond vast). Organizations need marketers who understand the four V’s that define big data: Volume, Velocity, Variety, Value. Most importantly though, organizations need marketers who know the importance of smart data. This involves filtering the relevant data to help enterprises solve their business problems. We have the unique opportunity to learn how to do this, so why not take advantage of it? It may be scary to work with programs like R, Python, SPSS, and SAS, but learning how to use and utilize these hard skills will outweigh the anxiety.

As someone who did not take up this valuable opportunity, I highly recommend taking an additional data class outside of the requirements. Grab the chance soon, since the IMC program at Northwestern is only fifteen months long and flies by fast. If data is a subject outside of your comfort zone, that’s all the more reason to enroll in a data class. Not only will you learn more than you thought possible, but your value to employers will be priceless because you comprehend both the qualitative and the quantitative. The class where you feel the most hesitation is likely to be the class you learn the most from.  

So, what’s you take? Comment below to let us know!

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