Analytics and data are words that have become very popular now. In fact, the presence of both is now more evident than ever before as more and more companies understand the value both deliver when used in unison.
No wonder, the terms ‘Black gold’ and ‘Texas Tea’ are being used to describe the riches that can come from data!
In fact, when in 2006 Clive Humby, UK Mathemetician and architect of Tesco’s Clubcard first said that information is the new oil, there weren’t many takers. But soon the phrase became catchy and it casually treaded its way to UN council to even the Wall Street. It is one of those catch statements that’s now used so often (more than 1.3 million Google search results).
However, time and again there are sporadic queries on whether analytics is being over-hyped now. Is there more talk and less action on the ground?
There is a need to take a closer look at analytics. In the years to come blind belief in data analytics will change and a more serious look at what analytics can truly deliver will now begin to take form. The US elections have shown that you need to know the limitations of data as well. Nate Silver famously called two presidential elections nearly to perfection: He got 49 states right in 2008 and all 50 in 2012. But he was way off the mark with Trump in 2016. Why? Post the US election results, he admitted: “We’ve learned that we have to be careful about how we convey uncertainty.”
If you are a company thinking about either starting out in analytics or scaling up your analytics practises, it may be a good time to think and plan for 2017. Thanks to the hype that analytics generates, organisations have bought into the concept, but many are still unsure how to ‘make it happen’ for them.
The easy way is to spot the trends and incorporate them right at the start of your strategic planning.
Here are few trends that I see for 2017:
- The democratisation of data: More data is now available to companies of all sizes. And thanks to solutions like Amazon Mechanical Turk, businesses will be able to much more easily collect data from around the world which they previously did not have access to. So more easy access to data within a company and sources to find external data will be a trend that I see growing larger in year 2017. Companies can partner with each other and leverage each other’s data. A DTH company knows when you move residences and that data can help a retailer who sells furniture or is in that catchment. I believe that in year 2017 more marketers will leverage each other’s data to build more effective analytics solutions. Therefore, more easy access to data – within a company and sources to find external data – will be a key trend that I see in 2017.
- Rise of creative analytics team: Analysts need to learn the art of ‘storytelling’ and embed analytics into the fabric of the company. Analysts are still unidimensional and have not yet embraced the intersection of ‘technology, statistics and business’. Hence, analysts struggle to tell stories. Often I see journalists do a far better job with infographics in the media. However, data journalists do not want a career in analytics. Hence, there is a gap that should to be filled. Remember, storytelling is not the same as ‘pretty charts’. Today, visualizations are being commoditised with Amazon and Google releasing near-free offerings that offer their users basic visualizations. Nevertheless, I see analysts will become more effective in telling stories using new age tools or platforms.
In 2017, companies will bring together a team of people who are integrators and who come from the intersecting skills sets of statistics, technology and business. Thus, they will think creatively about staffing this team by bringing a journalist, tech geek and stats jock together in one group and see the magic.
- Customers are leaving behind a video trail: The sophistication of video analytics is rapidly increasing, with new technologies that detect facial expressions and gender. Thanks to new platforms such as Snapchats, Instagrams and Facebook Live you have much more visual data at your fingertips. Video analytics can even identify unique visitors across various locations, allowing for detailed path analysis of customers.
- Growing importance of User Experience:Advanced analytics is no longer just for analysts. Customer experience for analytics users will continue to be very important as more and more business users’ switch to analytics systems for aid.
- Mass customisation: Several reports suggest that global mobile advertising spend will touch $100 billion valuation in 2016. This investment to inch closer to the customer is expected to continue to surge in 2017. At the same time, understanding the audience is vital to ensure this money is well spent. Since experience has to be personalised, the ability to predict customer’s personality and behaviour presents a clear opportunity for targeted advertising. In brevity, mass customisation will become a reality if marketers are able to successfully segment audiences according to personality type rather than by age or gender. Artificial Intelligence and machine learning will play a role in achieving this.
- Mobile adoption creates exciting possibilities: Given the massive shift to mobile shopping, companies will need to develop a mobile-led omnichannel strategy rooted in a ‘mobile first’ mind-set. Research shows that 25 per cent of mobile apps are only used once and 58 per cent of users churn in the first 30 days of using an app. Mobile app analytics would start to include a lot of geospatial analytics. With businesses accumulating more and more data on their customers’ locations and corresponding activities, it is necessary for decision makers to generate insights that include this information to increase customer loyalty, sales and other outcomes. The use of automation and artificial intelligence within mobile app analytics will also be a gamechanger. More in-depth analytics would be based around uninstalls – the reasons and triggers for the same. In fact, examining the causes of uninstalls will play a vital role in user retention.
- Companies will build massive customer single view: In order for companies, from key executives to customer service reps, to best make decisions and interact with their customers, they need a holistic view of analytics from all customer-facing platforms. This does not exist today and companies will use the engineering developed by new age companies like Facebook and Google to create such infrastructure. Companies will start to merge data across systems keeping the customer at the centre of it all. Brands will need to merge mobile app data, sales data, marketing data, service and support data, and potentially other kinds of data into a single unified whole.
- Analytics will depend even more on company culture: Culture is key to analytics adoption. As companies look at analytics to give them a competitive edge, they need to make key changes in their information technology, their structure, their processes, and their culture. You don’t often hear about a close partnership with HR for analytics adoption, but it is critical for this culture change to start.
- Younger people will disrupt: Analytics will move towards being a far younger person’s game. Currently, the average age in online business is far lower. It’s a fact that younger people are adopting analytics far faster. They are getting exposed to it in their education and they are consuming it through their ‘digital avatars’. They see this often as a ‘no brainer’. Older executives are harder to convert to this line of thinking. Finally, the environment will force one to evolve, adapt or perish.
The writer is: Ajay Kelkar, Co-Founder and COO, Hansa Cequity