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“Data” Predictions for 2016

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There have been a plethora of predictions for 2016 – from who will win the U.S. Presidential election to whether Chipotle will still be in business at the end of the year. Technology and marketing predictions are not excluded from the mix with expanded use of open sources like Hadoop and Spark to manage the deluge of big data being generated to contextual mobile marketing through the use of wi-fi and beacons leading the way.

Every day I am asked by our clients what they should be doing to get ahead of the predictions and consistently I tell them you need a partner who understands data and the potential within it. Someone who can interpret your business questions and address them in actionable and meaningful ways.   While Hadoop and Spark are great, the ability to really read and decipher the hidden gems is the silver bullet.  There is huge opportunity for this in the next year or so.

Data consolidation, or breaking down the data silos, is something that I have a keen interest in.  The ability to join disparate data sources in one data platform – whether you call it a data lake or some other name – will mean that data management vendor consolidation will begin.  We’ve already seen it.  One large quick serve restaurant chain is using Fishbowl to manage all their analytics – whether that’s the internal financial planning analysts or our analysts – they use one central repository of data.  That data platform includes POS transaction data – millions of rows, competitive pricing data, social data scrapped from the web, guest satisfaction data…you name it, it’s in there.  There are, needless to say, huge efficiencies in operational costs – set up is done once and there are no redundancies or latencies in data.  Everyone is looking at the same data and a single view of customers and their impact on the business is achieved.

“Data scientists” was labeled as one of the sexiest job titles in 2015.  And the trend looks unlikely to change.  However, the term Data Whisperer seems more apropos these days.  The ability to tame it, train it and calm the peripheral noise will become increasingly important.

One of the most underappreciated and often forgotten pieces to successful use of data is the ability to act on it. My prediction is marketing automation will become even more relevant and important, particularly those that are supported with machine learning.  While human intervention is important in establishing business rules, IBM’s Watson has proven to be smarter than humans – as seen on the long running Jeopardy show.

As marketing automation gets better and smarter we will also get closer to 1:1 segmentation of marketing messages.  The term 1:1 was originally coined by Martha Rogers and Don Peppers in their first book The One to One Future: Building Relationships One Customer at A Time.  Many marketing organizations are stuck at rather simple segmentation – a case of 1 to many.  Very few have achieved contextual/situation segmentation and even less have delivered true 1:1 messaging.  Now, there’s a fine line between relevant, non-invasive and creepy messaging that intrudes into personal space.  Finding the balance will be the key.

Screen of choice – whether that’s a mobile phone, tablet, desktop or TV – has become and will continue to be an important consideration.  Also important will be the need to deliver “on demand”. Customers are smarter and more informed than ever and your brand better deliver on experience – however they engage with you.

Again I am reminded of one of my favorite authorities on beating others at their own game…in Geoffrey Moore’s booking “Crossing the Chasm” he talks about the realities of high-tech marketing.  Even though the book was originally published in 1993 his logic and words still resonate.  Those early adopters and innovators will benefit.  Those late to the party…well they miss the party.  And on that, I say, Happy New Year!  Let’s get the party started!!!!

Written by Fishbowl President & CEO, Dev Ganesan

Dev Ganesan