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University College Ghent launches first AI training for marketers.

Tuesday 18th of April 2023

Over the past couple of years, data has been exponentially emerging from everywhere. Every day, all kinds of new transactions, interactions, and information are being created resulting in a tremendous amount of complex data. It is common knowledge that keeping track of these data is important to make better marketing decisions.

Indeed, business decisions are no longer based on ‘gut feeling’ or intuition, but rather on concrete facts and figures. Having data-driven insights about different aspects such as marketing campaigns, leads performance or a company’s internal activities can not only help the decisions takers to better understand what part of their organization is on track, but also what are the areas that need improvement. 

However, keeping track of data is not enough to create value. As ingredients are not enough to make a good soup, you cannot make an informed decision out of unprepared data. It needs to be cooked from raw to good insights. 

In other words, data need to tell a story. To do so, what better tool than a tailored dashboard gathering all the relevant insights that a narrator might need? 

Now the question is: “How to tell a good story with the right data? 

To answer it, let’s divide the explanation in three distinct points:


1.  The business comprehension

A good storyteller always knows who he is addressing to, so that he chooses the most suitable words to convey his message. You must have a clear definition of who will look at the information so that the dashboard is shaped accordingly to the right profile. 

Next step is to define what each persona’s objectives are. An exercise needs to be made to create relevant KPI’s. Put simply, what does the decision taker needs to know to make the best business decision? 

Here are some common questions that you can ask yourself: 

  • How are we performing now?
  • What are the goals we want to achieve?
  • What do we want to track?

You can raise as many questions as needed in order to catch up the context of your organization and the challenges it needs to face. 

This first step will result in two essential elements: A clear persona definition of the stakeholders who will use the dashboard, and the marketing / business user stories that include the goals to achieve and all the future dashboard’s content. 

2. Defining the right metrics

Once you clearly understand who you are addressing to and what story you want to tell, you need to translate the user stories into the right metrics. 

To illustrate that, imagine you want to tell a story about food to a vegan, you will talk about fruits and vegetables. If you want to tell the same story to an athlete, you will rather focus on protein or carbohydrates etc. 

As a result, for each visual, the right measures, facts, and dimensions have to be chosen according to different audiences, in order to build valuable insights in the correct language. 

A common metric to assess marketing campaign performance would be for example the “customer acquisition cost”. 

To find the right metrics, you can consider the following questions: 

  • What are the key performance indicators you need to generate?
  • How to control these KPIs?
  • Is the data sufficient to create these metrics?

This step will result in both a list of KPIs and its mapping. 

Tip: It is important to register it somewhere in order for anyone to understand their meaning and how they help answers the challenges defined earlier. It is advised to then keep a glossary for that.


3. Building these metrics

Now that you have your user stories, persona, KPIs and their mapping, the last step is to mix them all together to build the dashboard! 

You start by introducing the data. Once this is done, you create the data model that will be used to retrieve the data that you defined in the second step. You can finally start building your dashboard. 

Here are the questions you can ask yourself: 

  • How can I connect my databases to the dashboards?
  • Which visualization tool should I use?

The result of this final step will be a shaped and polished ready-to-use dashboard that will address all the marketing / business challenges defined in the first step. You can easily monitor your marketing activities, analyze, and react much quicker than ever. 

In conclusion, increasing interactions between organizations and customers have led to massive amount of complex data. Businesses can no longer afford to lose time making mistakes due to uninformed decisions. Having real-time data-driven insights that tell the right stories is a must to anticipate constant change and keep ahead of the market. 

If you would like to have more information on dashboards or if you want to discover how we can help you build yours, feel free to reach out! 

This new course “Data and AI in Marketing” is intended for entrepreneurs and marketers who are involved with the enormous quantity of data that is available, and want to see the material of AI and machine learning deciphered in order to be able to use that data. Thanks to specific explanation, they teach how you create added value with these new technologies, 

“As a university college we have to make our students future-proof,” says Katrien Meert, Head of Marketing Training Centre at HOGENT. “But we see that our current marketing programme has a gap: Big data. How can you use AI to obtain profound customer insights and achieve customer loyalty through a personalized approach whereby the desired products reach the correct customer for the right price?  And how can you use this technology as a growth accelerator for your business? The future of marketers will look different; you’ll read this in the specialized press. This is a big opportunity. Marketers have to be able to hold a conversation with IT people, without being completely astounded. Marketing is more than campaigns.

Today, so much data is gathered through customer cards, smartphones, sensors and the explosively increasing digital channels. Marketers, retailers, banks and energy suppliers, etc. are sitting on a mountain of data, which they often cannot use. It would be easier if they understood this language, so that they didn’t have to consult a data analyst at the drop of a hat.

This way, they can work faster and more efficiently. AI helps to increase the quality of the interactions with the customer and better predict the customers’ next step. Without AI, it would become far too time-consuming (or even impossible) to achieve such insights. 

Technology in human language 

The entire training is designed by addData, a Data Science office in Diegem that is a part of the Customer Collective group. They make technical concepts understandable for experienced marketers and demonstrate what AI can mean for a marketer. Companies such as Zalando and Coolblue have been working with this technology for years in order to predict consumers’ purchasing behaviour, among other things, which gives them an enormous competitive advantage.  

“You need a data scientist for these technical concepts” explains David Vansteenbrugge, Managing Director of addData. “Marketers are starting to feel uncomfortable about not knowing how AI works. On LinkedIn you get the false impression that everybody is perfectly aware of what AI is. Quod non. That makes this refresher course so relevant. With this, we want to share our knowledge to the maximum. This way, we help shape the marketers of tomorrow.” 

Cross-fertilisation between education and business community 

Lies Taerwe, Managing Director of The House of Marketing and Managing Partner of Customer Collective, the umbrella marketing group above addData, confirms from experience that the connection between education and the business world is a way to attract young talent. 

“The partnership between education and the private sector is on the increase because it is increasingly difficult for the world of education to keep up with the rapid technological evolutions,” explains Lies Taerwe. “If you design with the experts what is necessary on the labor market, you have a much better chance of finding the right profiles. Via a ‘train-the-trainer’ programme, which we all apply here, we’ll create a win-win situation: new influx of talent in businesses and new teachers with up-to-date knowledge in education.” 

Despite the scarcity on the labor market, Customer Collective has grown in the past year from 300 to more than 400 employees: “Where do we continue to get this talent? Partly by working together with schools. We also regularly give our staff refresher courses. In order to keep them, we constantly think ahead.”  

External expertise  

The teachers who will be sharing their know-how with the participants include several renowned experts from the business community. In addition to David Vansteenbrugge of addData, other lecturers will include Emilie Nenquin, Head of Data & Analytics at VRT and Steven de Grave, Expert Data, Privacy & GDPR at the innovative law firm De Groote – De Man. 


Registration for this course can be done from today on the HOGENT website. The course is spread over 10 Thursday afternoon sessions, each lasting 3 hours and will start on January 19th. 

About addData   

AddData helps ambitious organizations deploy the strength of artificial intelligence in the most pragmatic way. We, as a reliable partner for the implementation of customer data platforms, help CMOs and CEOs to become acquainted with machine learning in order to obtain a 360° picture of their customer base.

We combine the profound technical knowledge of data scientists with the creative and strategic know-how of consultants in order to build a bridge between taking decisions and artificial intelligence. For more information, go to www.adddata.eu.  

About HOGENT  

HOGENT strives to excel in education, research, service provision and practice of the arts. Through the expertise of its staff, graduates and the commercialisation of its research, HOGENT wants to make a valuable contribution to a critical, creative and open society. 

HOGENT is a breeding ground where knowledge, creativity and entrepreneurship strengthen and stimulate each other. Nobody knows what the future has to offer. But one thing is certain: we shall learn throughout our entire life. That applies to all of us, whether you are a student, employee, job seeker or entrepreneur. Time and again you will learn new things and unlearn the old. For only then can you surf along on the continuous changes and keep up with technological innovations. And only in this way can you continue to develop and fulfil your ambitions. HOGENT is your partner in this. Our varied curriculum offers you the knowledge and expertise you are looking for at that moment in your career or life, in a way in which you feel most comfortable.   

About Customer Collective 

Customer Collective is an eco-system that consists of various entities. The marketing group supports companies to achieve fast growth through a customer-driven focus. The group concentrates on five pillars that are also the conditions for a successful commercial transformation: customer strategy, branding & performance, digital acceleration, data and technology. Since 2021, Customer Collective bundles the strengths of The House of Marketing, Dignify, Upthrust, Fightclub, Sales X and addData.

As opposed to other ecosystems existing on the European market, the companies work closely together. For each project they select the best profiles with complementary expertise and skills to have the best possible impact. Customer Collective is powered by Down2Earth Capital and Quanteus Group. The group has more than 400 employees in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. For further details, go to www.customercollective.eu.