Many marketers have long argued their company’s most important asset is consumer perception of their brands and the predictable revenue streams that result. Yet a brand’s value does not yet show up on balance sheets. Similarly, the value of the right marketing data does not yet show up on balance sheets despite its potential to be proprietary, and like a strong brand, fuel consumer loyalty, drive competitive advantage and faster growth. As with portfolios of brands, portfolios of data deserve to be invested in and strategically managed, mined and modeled to maximize potential.

Technology is enabling most everything to radiate traceable data relevant to marketing a brand. In addition to increasing speed exponentially, technology is also enabling this data to be gathered, analyzed and optimized to determine whom to target, their path to purchase, product-innovation strategy, engagement strategy, media-buying strategy, brand lift and even market spend.

This deluge of data is just in its nascent state. The growth of mobile devices is only part of the reason it will increase beyond what we can yet appreciate. Another is the socialization of data, where millions increasingly track and upload as many as 40 to 50 things about themselves daily. Such proactive sharing of everything from one’s carbon footprint, to hours of sleep, to medicines taken creates a global quantification on the norms of humanity.

And with Facebook FB +0.48%, Google GOOG -0.13% and others famously making billions in revenue from packaging and selling people’s data, millions of individuals now see their personal data as a kind of currency to be held and then brokered. Already there are “data exchanges” where people share or trade their data for things of value or sell it to advertisers.

Whether for individuals, businesses or the hackers trying to steal it, data has value. After all, the right data can make money or save money. And what business wouldn’t want data that provides early warning signs, or accuratepredictions on the future of an innovation or quarterly financial performance?

Yet despite data’s clear value, in a recent survey of marketing executives by Lindsay Stone & Briggs, 22 percent of respondents lamented that data and analytics are only viewed as reporting tools in their company. Forty-three percent said their company’s C-suite and board did not understand the potential of their marketing data to be a strategic asset. Eighty-three percent felt quite strongly that their company needed a three-year plan to invest in and maximize the return on its marketing data.

The potential value of marketing data also means that, just as executives must be able to interpret a balance sheet and understand the origins of various parts of their P&L, they now also have to be fluent in creating, reading and acting on marketing data.

In other words, given the potential of marketing data to become a game-changing asset, it’s imperative that everyone in an organization–from board chair on down–know how to make smarter marketing decisions faster, with the right data and analytics. And with new technology and reporting tools, it’s also likely this data and analytics will include information they’ve never experienced before. So it’s equally important that everyone in an organization align on critical tenets that enable marketing data to fulfill its potential asset value.

For example, do you know, and do you and your colleagues agree on:

  • The difference between data that’s in service for “where to play” versus “how to win?”
  • What customer behavioral data, if you knew it, could give you competitive advantage?
  • How to put data in various visual forms to reveal patterns others don’t see? (Consider it a double check–a new kind of “audit” on the summary reports you’re given.)
  • How to avoid confirmation bias when reading data?
  • How to react to the path you’re on or marketplace conditions faster than the competition by designing experiments that generate helpful data in three days instead of three months?
  • And given the big hopes for growth most every company has today, do you and your teams agree on answers to all the above applied to the launch of your next new product? And have you organically built into your new product the radiating of data, and into the launch–the organic gathering of data?
  • In a world where marketing data is increasingly at the core of business operations, growth, prosperity and strong balance sheets belong to those executive teams that align on the same right answers to the above.This article originally appeared on