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  • Dr Jochen Toepfer, Senior Vice-President Services, EMEA, Acxiom

Dr Jochen Toepfer, Senior Vice-President Services, EMEA, Acxiom

Describe your career to date 

I would describe myself as an experienced data specialist with a demonstrated history of working across data management, business intelligence and analytics.


As part of my current role, I help build and maintain a strong reputation and relationship with Acxiom’s clients, through identifying and growing data-driven solutions. From the initial discussion of the business problem through to the definition of the business use case, I use industry leading principles and best-practices to help clients across a range of verticals define their customer experience strategy.


Prior to joining Acxiom, I sold my first company in the enterprise business intelligence market space into a successful IPO campaign. I focused on global 3,000 companies in the field of data and analytics. Following this, I headed up the data management and analytics team at the largest Swiss retail bank, covering strategy, demand, architecture, and capabilities for data and analytics, and assuming responsibility for data governance for the group of 270 cooperative banks.


I have been recognised as an honorary professor and book author in the field of data and analytics through my paper, ‘Active Enterprise Intelligence’. Alongside this, I have authored a blog series on customer experience which has been published on www.adzine.de, and on Acxiom’s website.

What key skills or attributes do you consider have contributed to your success in this role? 

I am skilled in various areas including strategy, architecture, business development, sales, presales and professional services. Through this skillset I help brands harness the power of data and identity to deliver a personalised customer experience based on a true data-driven approach.


What level of data maturity do you typically encounter across your client base and what tends to hold this back?

The focus of a data-driven approach relies on the operationalisation of the data technology and analytical processes. All manual intermediate steps need to be removed for both cost saving reasons and also because utilising data technology effectively enables strategic conviction of context-based marketing and sales control.


The major roadblock I see across the industry is the lack of trust in a brand’s data to be used automatically. Customer data quality and trust need to be governed diligently to allow seamless usage across the brand’s channels.

What trends are you seeing in terms of the data and analytics resources your clients are demanding from you? 

“Data-driven” is the bucket under which two of the trends I’m seeing from clients reside. While data-driven describes the brand’s ability to respond directly to a customer action, there are a few different ways to achieve this.


The first centres around trusted data in near real-time, which involves the immediate collection of data from millions of (mostly) mobile customer actions into a trustworthy inventory of integrated and historical customer data and profiles.


The second is business action in near real-time. This focuses on the need to model the brand’s analysis and decision-making process (including segmentation and personalisation) for immediate activation of a business action when new data from customer actions arrive.


What challenges do you see for data in the year ahead that will have an impact on your clients and on the industry as a whole?

End-users are demanding more targeted experiences across a range of channels and their loyalties are increasingly shifting, depending on factors like price point due to the cost-of-living crisis. They are becoming frustrated with brands that don’t seem to understand them, and for our clients this means they are having to focus on different ways to cut through the noise and value customers as people to provide lifetime value.


Alongside this, the way organisations can collect data is changing with the phase out of third-party cookies. However, this is an opportunity for us to help our clients and the wider industry develop strategies that can be future proofed, for example a solid first-party data programme that effectively uses the insights that businesses already have to hand.

How are you developing the data literacy of a) your own organisation and b) your clients?

Data literacy is the ability to identify, locate, interpret, and evaluate information, and then communicate key insights effectively. At Acxiom we believe data literacy means a non-expert level of ability to competently turn data into useful knowledge, and apply that knowledge to drive effective decision-making. All professionals will need to be data literate in an automated, decision-focused future.


In our internal Acxiom academy, we include courses on how to think rigorously and abstractly about evidence-based decision-making and manipulate data accordingly. We also recommend our clients to offer similar courses to their professionals.


How are you tackling the challenge of attracting, nurturing and retaining talent?

At Acxiom we have established our IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Awareness) Council to advance cross-company diversity and inclusion strategies globally with specific business goals, metrics and programme objectives. This helps us attract and retain talent, making sure we are inclusive all the way from our branding to business practices like product development. By ensuring we are an inclusive workforce, we can work to create encompassing data strategies that truly move the need for our customers.

Dr Jochen Toepfer
has been included in:
  • 100 Enablers 2023 (EMEA)