Editor’s note: Christina Costa-Connolly is regional director for marketing research firm Infotools, U.K. 

I spent a good part of my career examining customer experiences; seeking to understand the customer journey at every level. One thing I learned from this was that most companies can expect there to be a number of moments where they can have a potential interaction with their customer. From the customer seeing advertisements and other marketing outreach all the way to shopping online/in store, and from talking with friends to cruising social media for product reviews, these moments are everywhere. And here is where the problem lies: we need to combine data from all the interactions to form a truly holistic picture of the customer.

If we’re honest, trying to collate just a small part of this data in an easily manageable way is hard enough. Bringing in further layers like business metrics such as distributions, sellout and sell-in volumes, and even more traditional marketing research data such as claimed consumer attitudes, becomes a mammoth task. Connecting hard data to the underlying consumer behaviors in a way that makes sense is a struggle, but I believe it is a struggle that our industry is finally able to address head-on. With the right forward-thinking leaders and technology at our fingertips, we can go beyond just putting all this data together and actually find those relationships and patterns that can make a real impact on business decisions.

The reason we need to talk about this as an industry ties back to the fundamental way that the marketing model works: you invest in advertising, marketing or public relations and you want to evoke a response from your target audience. This response – we hope – will turn into an action that positively impacts the bottom line. But what if the link gets broken somewhere along the way? There is increased pressure on marketers to deliver results more effi...