Instinctively we know that it is not just about collecting the data. Big and bigger doesn’t necessarily make you smart and smarter.  It just makes you one of those pack rats that has piles of stuff in all corners of your house.  Yes, it might be very well organized and could have a potential use that makes it work keeping. But will you ever take it out and use it? Will you ever really benefit from what you’ve so painstakingly collected? Likely not.

Image GalleryDon’t be a data pack rat.  This is the year to turn your data into actions and positive business outcomes.

In 2016, the energy around data-driven investments will continue to elevate the importance of data and create incremental improvement in business performance for many but some serious digital disruption for others.  Here are a few of our data predictions for 2016.

  • Data leadership will drive successful insights strategies.  Companies are challenged with developing the culture, competencies and capabilities they need to exploit their data.  And, data leadership can help.Chief data officers will gain power, prestige and presence this year. The chief data officer (CDO) serves the role of galvanizing the company’s attention and resources around the data. She’s the one who can force a house cleaning and build a strategy for the ongoing practice of being data driven. But over the long run that function will shift to the execution of the strategy, and coordinating the sharing of data, tools and analytics best practices across the organization.  We will likely see fewer CDOs going forward but more chief analytics officers, or chief data scientists.  The role will evolve, not disappear.
  • New tools such as machine learning will reduce the insight killer – time. Machine learning will replace manual data wrangling and data governance dirty work. And, as the organization develops a data culture, many data management functions will become second nature. The freeing up of time will accelerate the execution of data and analytics strategies, allowing organizations to get to the good stuff, taking actions and driving better business outcomes based on the data.
  • A third of firms will pursue data science through outsourcing and technology. As firms begin to recognize the extent to of their gaps, they increasingly turn to insights services, algorithm markets, self-service advanced analytics tools, and cognitive computing capabilities to help fill data science gaps. The whole insights services ecosystem will develop at a rapid rate.
  • The ecosystem of insights providers emerges with players from many origins. Technology vendors, data brokers, and marketing data management platforms (DMPs) all recognize the opportunity to sell insights, not data, as a service. But they come at the market from entirely different directions. We expect to see many smaller players providing niche functional expertise (eg. Supply chain optimization or marketing campaign targeting) as well as industry domain experts (eg. Financial services or retail). We also expect to see a lot of M&A activity as traditional services firms bring new tools and bodies in-house to meet the growing demand. Expect a lot of activity and chaos in 2016. The excitement begins.
  • Firms will try to sell their data; some will succeed.  Firms from all industries will themselves try to get into the data market. In 2016, an increasing number of firms will look to drive value and revenue from their data exhaust. Despite the promise, most companies will struggle to master the intricacies of protecting personal information and the appropriate business models. One man’s trash might be another man’s treasure but that doesn’t extend to everyone. Those who want to be successful must build the business like any other business: study the market, decide on a product, a value proposition for potential buyers, a channel to market, and an ecosystem of partners who can make it happen.

For additional predictions as well as more context, proof points and recommendations, take a look at our report which we provide in two flavors: Predictions 2016: Turn Data Into Insights And Actions For Technologies and Predictions 2016: Turn Data Into Insights And Action For Marketers.

And, please comment with your thoughts on what else you think is going to happen in data, analytics and insights in 2016?