“Technology and data are integral to maintaining some semblance of normalcy at work and in life,” says Cristina Bravo Olmo, VP Marketing, Sigma Computing, in an exclusive interview with TCMO.

TCMO Bureau: Tell us about your experiences building data-driven businesses. How have you used data to help create better marketing strategies for those businesses?

Cristina Bravo Olmo: One of the most basic data-driven tasks I do is what I call “backward math.” I take a goal, let’s say a revenue target, and work backward to figure out how many SQLs we will need, then how many MQLs, using our latest conversation rate and so on until I land on what sort of lead gen and demand gen activities we will need to reach each of those numbers. Then I can determine what my marketing budget will need to be, after layering on other areas of marketing that will support the revenue number – brand awareness, operating costs, etc.

That’s just one example in the initial planning. I am obsessed with dashboards and reports, and monitoring progress in real-time so we can make continuous adjustments to ensure not only meet but exceed our original goals. I created a couple of one-stop-shop dashboards in Sigma that is open on my desktop at all times. The first one helps me and the head of sales stay aligned on top-line metrics. This dashboard makes it easy for me to keep an eye on revenue, pipeline (raw and weighted), and pipeline/revenue by segment, rep, and stage, as well as monitor how our average selling price (ASP) is evolving over time. The other dashboard that I use daily maintains alignment with my marketing leadership team by tracking how we’re doing on our inquiry volume, appointment setting with new prospects, conversion rates within the marketing funnel, and website traffic and conversions – all in real-time.

These are just a few examples of the metrics I monitor on a daily basis. There are several others that I will pull up from time to time, depending on my focus.

TCMO Bureau: In your experience, what is your single biggest learning for instilling a data-driven culture in a marketing team?

Cristina Bravo Olmo: The single, most important thing for creating a data-driven culture is simple: access. Marketing teams have been working with data for years because we’re required to show ROI for nearly every dollar spent. We’ve cobbled together insights from the analytics in our various tools and from reports, or dashboards analysts have created for us from their black box of data.

Marketing teams need to make data less scary by having regular conversations about data literacy and proactively training new team members on how to use your analytics and business intelligence tools and how to read what the data is telling them. Working with data can actually be a lot of fun and very satisfying, once you know what you’re doing. People just need help overcoming common hurdles, like “I’m not good at math” or “I don’t want to break anything.” The only way over those challenges is by training and starting small.

TCMO Bureau: How does Sigma Computing balance “collaboration and control”? Has the current pandemic increased the importance of collaboration within businesses and marketing teams?

Cristina Bravo Olmo: Sigma’s purpose is to make data, analytics, and business intelligence accessible to everyone, but we don’t think access has to mean a loss of control. The first step to enabling collaboration is getting everyone – domain experts, analysts, and data teams – using the same tool. Sigma is easy for non-technical folks to use because it has a spreadsheet-like interface that we’re all familiar with and it meets all the needs of the data team because it has the full power of SQL under the hood, direct access to the cloud data warehouse, and a comprehensive security program.

We do our best to model the user experience after comparable actions in consumer apps or other common workplace apps, so it’s intuitive and easy for the average knowledge worker to pick up fairly quickly. Users are able to share worksheets and dashboards with point-to-point sharing – very much like how Google Sheets are shared. One great thing about Sigma is that data never leaves the cloud data warehouse, which thwarts a number of security concerns right off the bat. With millions of people now working from home, balancing access and control is mission-critical. Sure, we have Slack and Zoom, and even good old fashion email and phones, but just about everyone is trying to juggle a whole lot more than we ever could have imagined before and you don’t want to be pinging folks with questions all the time. We need to empower employees to be able to find their own answers.

The new normal could be around for some time. Gartner surveyed hundreds of CFOs at the end of March and found that a quarter of respondents said they would move at least 20 percent of their on-site employees to permanent remote positions after the pandemic subsides. We can anticipate a dramatic increase in cloud adoption, as companies look to enable remote employees and, as part of a business continuity plan, should another disaster strike. As we have all learned, life ‘as we know it’ can change in an instant. Technology and data are integral to maintaining some semblance of normalcy at work and in life.

TCMO Bureau: How is Sigma Computing helping enterprises to make more informed decisions around marketing?

Cristina Bravo Olmo: As I mentioned, marketers have been cobbling together data for years to improve strategies and illustrate results. What we’ve been missing is a way to aggregate all of our data into a single dashboard to get a 360-degree view into our marketing program and then analyze that data ourselves. We need to be able to dig into data, do our own exploration, and apply our expertise to the process.

Sigma finally makes all that possible. With Sigma, marketers can aggregate data from a variety of sources and analyze it together to easily spot trends, patterns, and correlations others miss. I truly believe a single insight has the power to transform a business. We recently made templates specifically for marketing teams to help jump-start analysis and get to insights faster. Our new templates include a Customer Data Repository, customer dashboard, and reporting for ad spend on Facebook and Google Ads. These templates make it easy for marketers to take advantage of all their data quickly and get a complete picture of the customer journey at last.

TCMO Bureau: How are Sigma’s Analytics and BI tools different from other legacy tools?

Cristina Bravo Olmo: Our founders saw the gap in the market and were inspired to create something that would allow the average employee to harness the power of data via the cloud. The Sigma interface doesn’t require any coding knowledge, and it was inspired by the ubiquitous spreadsheet that we were all raised on.

Our mission is to deliver an analytics and business intelligence solution that makes it easy for anyone, regardless of technical ability, to analyze real-time data, discover new insights, and make the best decisions possible in each moment. When marketers, finance leaders, sales ops managers, or anyone who relies on data to do their jobs really are able to apply their expertise to A&BI and work alongside the data team and analysts, the process becomes collaborative and community-driven. Data teams are then free to focus their time on more complex, innovative, and fulfilling initiatives that fuel innovation, drive progress, and accelerate success; however, you choose to define it.

Cristina is the Vice President of Marketing at Sigma Computing.  Prior to joining Sigma, Bravo Olmo was the Vice President of Marketing at Wrike and Director of Global Enterprise Marketing at Zendesk, where she was a key member of the IPO team. Bravo Olmo earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Michigan State University.