SINGAPORE — For all the possibilities data and analytics offer, having access to the information means little if communicators can’t craft the story behind the statistics — and are unable to convey what it means to C-suite leaders.

“We are unable to explain (the information) in a language they understand,” Emmanuel Caisse, Weber Shandwick senior VP of insight and analytics, told delegates at the fifth Asia-Pacific IN2 Innovation Summit, which took place in Singapore on Tuesday. "That calls for marketers to improve their own processes to using data, so they can communicate the information gleaned from it — as well as why it matters and how it can be leveraged — in language simple senior managers can comprehend, ultimately demonstrating its impact on business outcomes like ROI and profit margins."

“When we interact with the C-suite, what is important to show is the context of the data that we use, and that we are using the additional data to choose between different options,” he said.

Speaking to a packed room of more than 160 people, Caisse said that, given the abundance of data available, the first step is having the right tools and team to be able to gather, clean and assess data — something that is still “extremely difficult.”

Having that system in place, however, is critical in helping marketers get over another key challenge: gleaning the kind of insights from the data that marketers use in building their plans — whether the goal is boosting a company’s reputation or swaying consumers’ allegiances to brands.

But there is only so much tech teams can do from there, he said. The onus is on communicators to flesh out the story behind the data, which not only is critical in successfully harnessing it but explaining what it means.

“You  are the ones that can ask the right questions to the statisticians, to the data engineers to actually fulfill your information,” Caisse said.

The importance of having a process in place applies when it comes to using data to assess whether campaigns were successfully influencing target  audiences, he said. “Set the right objectives for campaigns, determine inputs and measure how inputs turn into outputs and outcomes. And demonstrate that you have made an impact.

"By building a campaign from inside out, by understanding what objective you have and what behavior you’re trying to understand … and understanding what data and metrics are going to be able to prove,  you make a much stronger case to your CEO," he said.

Jyoti Jain, Johnson & Johnson’s APAC director of advanced analytics and global strategic insights and analytics, said she sees data becoming the basis for all forms of marketing and sales in the near future. In turn, it is all the more important for marketers now to understand “how you handle the challenge of so much data, so many sources … and how do you figure out which ones you should be using and what you should be doing with it."

Jain explained the basics of her personal approach to using data, in a way that very much captures the discussion's message. “What I ask my people to do is tell me a story behind these numbers,” she said.