If there is one thing that really demonstrates the power of good data it is predictive analytics. Yet making predictions about data itself is hard, not least because there is relatively little information on which to base a forecast. So this look ahead starts with a review of some of the big events of last year which help to indicate the direction of travel for the industry. Who knows, one of these may even happen!
Top three things that happened in 2013...
1. Open data came of age - and became interesting for marketers.
Over the last five years, open data had been building a head of steam on the back of strong government support and investment. Yet most of this activity has been around unlocking public sector data sets and finding uses within health and social policy. That is changing fast, not least through the link between the Open Data Institute (ODI) and the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing. Early 2014 will see its joint training programme, Open Data for Marketing, run at the ODI and then as a reverse fixture at the IDM. The syllabus combines the experience and standards which have been developed within the open data world with the knowledge of what has a commercial benefit. Combined with the first ODI Annual Summit, 2013 put open data on the marketing map, with plenty of developments yet to come. [Ref: DataIQ Journal Spring 2013 p14].
2. If you set out to map uncharted territories, you are bound to run into a storm or two.
3. Investment in the digital and data technology space will continue to grow.
As was pointed out in DataIQ’s Autumn issue, investors have been pouring into the digital and data technology space. No sooner was it suggested that this was only the start then SAP made a move on KXEN, bringing predictive analytics into the enterprise platform. More acquisitions seem likely to follow through 2014 as it becomes increasingly obvious that core business systems need to be updated to cope with the new data world. There are plenty of new solutions which have been under development as start-ups which have yet to reach fully commercial status, remaining for now experimental options on the workbench of many analysts and data managers. When we look back to today from the vantage point of five years’ time technology will seem very under-developed.
...and one thing that didn’t
The proposed Data Protection Regulation
The prospect of this legislation hung over every discussion during 2013 of where the data industry was heading. A close reading of the original draft suggested a potential extinction event, although more optimistic voices argued that much of it was simply an extension of existing practice. What nobody expected was the degree of uproar that would be caused in Brussels once business started to understand what was being proposed. This in turn became a political tussle, not least because many of those opposing the changes were said to have been nobbled by American interests (see 2 above). At the time of writing the Winter issue of DataIQ (see p35), it was still not clear which way this argument would go. Personally, I have a bet with a well-known privacy lawyer that a version of the Regulation will get passed in early Spring 2014. What I can still not predict is whether that would turn out to be bad - or good - for the industry.
And three predictions for 2014
1. If you have been sceptical about big data, watch out this year - you could just get left behind.
While last year saw a small group of leading data practitioners start to build their skills, resources and infrastructure for this new class of asset, this year will be the tipping point when the majority of organisations have a fully-realised programme or an in-development project.
Mainstreaming of big data will be another key stage in the progression of data from the back office to the boardroom, as DataIQ has been tracking since it launched. Greater excitement generated by these new data streams may just be the final push required to get and hold the attention of previously data-sceptic senior managers. But make no mistake, if your organisation does not get "data” this year, it may be too late. [See this year's Data IQ Strategy Research for more]
2. Consumer behaviour will return to pre-2008 models and levels of activity.
Just as shoppers recently have returned in droves to the stores for Christmas (and blown apart all previous predictions for the level of online buying), so it will continue. Confidence is flowing back and with it a willingness to start spending again. This will be backed up by a greater willingness among banks to lend. This will be true for workers in the private sector. But public sector workers are about to face three tough years as cuts and salary freezes start to make themselves really felt. Those in employment in health, local government, etc have had the advantage of job security since 2008, compared to very uncertain conditions for those in commercial organisations. Now the compass is swinging the other way.
3. The UK will suffer a Major Security Breach.
Major security breaches, like the one suffered by Target at the end of 2013, generally have been experienced by American companies. Not since 2007 has the UK been hit by a significant data breach (when HMRC’s records got lost in the post). Yet I believe a big data security breach will occur in the UK this year for two reasons:
Food for thought. Especially if you are reviewing your data management and data strategy. So remember - this could be a big year for data, in both a good and a bad way.
Wishing all our readers a very Festive Christmas and a Happy & Prosperous New Year!