The Year of Big Data – Top 5 Data Trends That Will Dominate 2015

In 2014, “big data” was one the biggest buzzwords that most people still hadn’t fully understood or figured out where to start. While most of us realize that actionable data insights empower businesses and help drive sales, loyalty and superior customer experiences, the thought of undertaking the task of unifying and making sense of huge volumes of data is daunting. But that’s slowly changing. Experts predict that 2015 will be the year of big data, and that this year, a majority of companies will allocate budgets and find the right tools and resources to truly harness their data.

Data gathering has evolved radically, and both C-level executives and their teams now realize that they need to join the big data arms race to retain and grow their customer base, and to stay competitive in today’s data-driven marketplace. Terms like in-memory databases, sensor data, customer data platforms and predictive analytics will become more widely understood. The focus will be more on democratizing that data and making it easily accessible to multiple teams through the right platforms and tools.

With terabytes of data being collected by companies at multiple touchpoints, platforms, devices and offline locations, companies will start to focus more on owning their data, being able to access, visualize and control this data, and on monetizing their audience in real-time with the right content. More emphasis will be placed on how ethically data is collected, how clean and accurate the data is and how not to be a data hoarder that collects data you don’t really need.

Here are the top 5 data trends that we predict will dominate 2015:

1. Data Agility Will Take Center Stage

It’s not enough to just own volumes of customer data if that data isn’t agile. More companies are seeking simple, fast and easy ways to provide unified and secure access to customer data, across departments and systems. CTOs, CMOs, data scientists, business analysts, developers and sales teams all have the same urgent need for tools and training to help them navigate their customer data. With the growing popularity of wearables, sensors and IoT devices, there’s additional real-time data flooding in. Plus having customer data stored on multiple legacy platforms and third-party vendor systems only makes data agility that much harder. Most companies only use about 12.5% of their available data to grow their business. Having access to the right tools that make customer data more agile and easy to use will be a major focus of companies in 2015.

2. Data is the New Gold & Puts Companies In Control

For many companies, the most commonly-faced data need is ownership and unification: Volumes of data being produced every second, being stored on multiple legacy platforms that still use dated architecture, and the inability to access all this customer data in one place to get a “complete view” of their customers. But with the advent of new tools and technology that makes data unification easier, companies are starting to realize the value of owning and controlling their customer data. The frustrations of dealing with multiple third-party vendors to gain ownership of data, and a lack of data rights keys that allows you to automatically pull data from these vendors will be major pain points that will be tackled. Companies can now choose from a range of platforms like Umbel to help collect first-party customer data from multiple online and offline sources, platforms and vendors, own and unify the data, and use the data in real-time to power and optimize marketing and sales campaigns.

3. The Rise of Customer Data Platforms

While CRMs and DMPs help meet many business needs, today’s marketers need a centralized customer data platform like Umbel that analyzes and gives them deep insights on their customer base. Very few companies actually have one truly comprehensive, unified customer database solution. They’re mostly still using multiple systems and platforms that collect data separately.

A CMO’s top priority will be to have a reliable Customer Data Platform that collects accurate customer data from all online and offline touch points (incl. website visits and purchases, social interactions, beacon data, mobile and in-store interactions etc.), eliminates duplicates and appends it with additional data (demographic, geographic, behavioral, brand affinities) from other trusted sources. These insights in turn would help power highly targeted and customized experiences for their customers, across touchpoints, and help drive sales and increase customer lifetime value.

4. Data Democratization Across Departments

The wealth of customer data available to brands today is staggering and yet many companies are yet to fully harness the data to super-charge marketing and sales efforts. One of the biggest hurdles that marketers face is that access to this data has been very limited at most companies. Firstly, only larger companies with IT resources had the capacity to collect, save, analyze, and monetize this valuable data. Secondly even if a company was collecting data, the IT department and/or the business analytics teams have restricted access to this data and sales and marketing teams that actually use this data have to go through a convoluted, time-consuming process to get the data and insights they need.

With new tools like Umbel, teams don’t need a Data Scientist to make sense of their data. Marketers and sales teams can visualize and segments their customers in minutes, and take action with this data by running ad campaigns, serving targeted content, driving product sales and even downloading email addresses to power customized campaigns.

For data to be truly valuable to an organization, it’s vital that the data be democratized across departments and teams, empowering all employees, regardless of their technical expertise, to access data and make more informed decisions. In 2015 more companies will start to use automated platforms that allow anyone in the company to view, analyze and take action based on customer data.

5. Mobile Data and Strategy Will Become Essential to Marketing

According to eMarketer, mobile search ad spend in the U.S. grew 120.8% in 2013 (overall gain of 122.0% for all mobile ads). Meanwhile, desktop ad spending went up by just 2.3% last year. According to ComScore, more than 60% of consumers’ time spent online with retailers is on a mobile device. The mobile app has already become as valuable as websites for retailers, and an essential component of any marketing plan. For companies to stay competitive, a seamless, secure, fast and intuitive experience on mobile devices, and the ability to capture this mobile data and add it to a unified customer data base is critical. Having this unified data of customers from every touchpoint (including mobile and off-line) will allow companies to identify trends and shape a better customer experience. More companies are becoming aware of how important it is to be able to unify their data and compare analytics across all platforms to help them create personalised marketing campaigns based on a “complete customer view.”