In the last few years, the roles of Chief Marketing and Chief Information Officers have become increasingly blurred. CMOs are now creating data at a phenomenal rate, and it is increasingly difficult for CIOs to manage this data, let alone provide insightful analytics. Given the importance of analytics to businesses looking for a competitive edge, I expect, in 2014 we will see businesses beginning to introduce a new role – the Chief Data Officer – to fill this gap.
This role would appear to be in the ascendency. Despite only 6 percent of companies currently employing a CDO, Gartner predicts that by 2015, a quarter of companies will do so. This research further suggests the emergence of a hybrid role between CMO and CIO within some companies, with over 80 percent of companies employing a chief marketing technologist.
The CDO role is a natural extension of that, dealing with crucial data streams across the business as a whole. As big data remains not only the biggest opportunity, but also the biggest barrier to insightful analytics, the smartest businesses will look to hire talent that is solely responsible for data management within a company, relieving both the CMO and CIO to focus on what they are good at. This role will be essential not only to improve business function but also bridge the gap between business and IT.
Business is becoming ever more competitive and the key way in which businesses in 2014 will differentiate themselves is through analytics. This is reflected in research by Accenture and SAS, which found that 72 percent of businesses said they would invest in analytics in 2013. However a lot of this investment was wasted, as 60 percent stated they didn’t have the skills to use analytics tools.
Clearly, businesses will seek to fill this skills gap in 2014 by developing their analytical skillsets. Using these new-found capabilities, they will be able to start to capitalise on the rise of the Internet of Things by moving towards prescriptive analytics. This is analytics that enables businesses to act ahead of time.
It’s a fascinating area and one which allows us to automate the collection, historical trending, future predictions and prescriptive action taken as a result. A great analogy is with driverless cars. You wouldn’t want your car to merely understand that you were about to crash; you would want to be able to do something about it.
You might want to analyse the road conditions, weather information and weight of traffic amongst other factors. Much like a driver, a business needs all of its mission-critical data in real-time so it can take appropriate action and avoid a crash!
2014 will be the year when businesses truly put customers at the heart of everything they do. The rise of the Internet of Things, big data and social media has led to mass data collection in the Cloud and businesses have struggled to get to grips with the proliferation of transaction channels.
Customers expect businesses to interact with them via whichever channel they choose, but historically businesses have been ill-equipped to handle the mass of data produced by such multi-channel relationships and the analysis required to make these relationships truly valuable.
However, in 2014, I predict, companies will begin to really capitalise on this increased number of customer touch points. Gartner research says that 64 per cent of worldwide organisations are now looking to invest in big data projects.
As a result, instead of drowning in a sea of data, we expect to see businesses further enriching the customer experience. With master data management (MDM), companies can make increasingly personal offers to business users, enabling those companies to offer every customer a VIP service.
The days when customers refused to share any information about themselves are now behind us. However, we will see an end to the era of unfettered sharing too. In 2014, I predict, customers will start to expect something in return for their data, be it a simpler life, special offers or even cash.
This is borne out by Forrester research, which states that over a third of UK online shoppers would be willing to sell all of their digital data to the right brand at the right price – and half of them would be more likely to buy from a retail brand if they did so.
In order to capitalise on the monetisation of data, companies need to make sure that they offer tangible benefits to those whose data they hold. Businesses should take care of this data and only use it in ways that simplify their customers’ lives and provide real value. What’s tricky is how to determine what constitutes “value” to each individual customer and ensure that the offer is something that they can truly appreciate.