Wavemaker, one of the media agencies best known for
its use of data science, has rebranded its data science department as “MIS” — but it’s not the old-school “management information systems” meaning of the term, but a
new-and-approved definition: “marketing intelligence & science.”
The move comes just months after Delphine Fabre-Hernoux joined the agency as Chief Data
& Analytics Officer, and shows how quickly she has begun to transform the organization.
She says the irony of using the acronym MIS has not escaped her, but that
it’s time to lean into a new meaning, because data science is just a means to an end for her department.
“I can’t tell you how many times people have
asked me, ‘How many data scientists do you have,’” she said, noting that the original label misrepresented what her department is charged with doing.
“When I think about our clients and what they expect from their partners and their agencies, we have to be two things,” she explained during an interview with MediaPost
late last week. “When we think about data, we need to transform data into intelligence. And that’s the reason why we are choosing the terminology intelligence, because at the end of the day,
data doesn’t really mean anything unless it informs intelligence.”
Fabre-Hernoux, who joined Wavemaker from Amazon where she was head of advertising
insights, previously held top data and analytics roles at Publicis, Dentsu, Facebook and Microsoft, notably has never had the word science in her title.
And while she
isn’t exactly a luddite, she says she is trying to build an organization that utilizes science — including data, machine learning, AI, and whatever comes next — it’s always viewed as a
tool to inform human intelligence in order to make better decisions for her clients.
Currently, that involves a project for Wavemaker — and likely parent GroupM — to
develop a new proprietary means of dealing with the deprecation of cookies and various other digital identity trackers, and replace them with more sophisticated applications of data that does not
encroach on consumer privacy but leads to better intelligence and outcomes for her clients.
While that’s still under wraps, she promises it will have a uniquely
Wavemaker and GroupM orientation that differentiates it from the morass of other solutions being touted in the market this past year.
By the way, her team does include
three actual data scientists, but she says they are focused on building tools that enable the rest of the analytics to work, well, more intelligently.