Big Data reveled in the spotlight in 2013. From crime prevention to healthcare, seemingly every vexing large-scale problem could be solved with the flick of a switch and a prayer to the Big Data gods. Alas, 2014 will be the year when the idealism and hype of Big Data and analytics will die down as retailers start to focus in on how and where to take action.
The promised land of Big Data certainly exists, but getting there isn't as simple as pressing a button. Industries are now beginning to learn tangible strategies and best-practices on how to make Big Data benefits a reality. Accordingly, Marketing is more data driven than ever before, and analytics produced from reams of consumer data are starting to prove their worth for organizations that understand how to make the insights actionable.
2014: Big Data's Mainstream Implementation in Retail
Nearly every industry is beginning to understand that it stands to benefit from the implementation of machine-learning technologies. Retail in particular is has yet to tap the plethora of data ripe for data analysis. But unlike most of the job market, disconnects exist between retailers' demands for data analysts and available talent. There's a growing awareness of the dearth of data experts within the retail industry, something that the competitive and hyper customer-centric nature of retail has underscored over the past year.
A recent National Retail Federation report stated that there are 42 million jobs in retail but only 20 thousand of those jobs are in IT. That dramatic ratio amounts to a few high-paying IT jobs within retail, with a significant lack of retail personnel to fill those roles. That data-expert gap between the personnel and potential will change the payrolls within the retail industry as newly minted "customer experience officers" demand more data analysts to deliver the strongest personalized experience for consumers.
Expect to see companies increase their efforts to recruit data experts to fill their growing retail analytics needs.
The Death of 2013 Big Data Buzzwords
Marketing lingo like "multichannel" or "omni-channel" permeated the industry in 2013. Though marketers used these buzzwords, consumers neither knew nor cared about which "channel" in which they were interacting with a brand. In the eyes of the modern shopper, a brand and its channels are one and the same, irrespective of how the shopper chose to access a product.
Companies need to ensure that their customers' retail experience remains as effortless and seamless as possible across every channel. Companies must continue to break down barriers within their organization (paper catalog, in-store, website, customer service) with an eye toward a single integrated and adaptive flow that delivers the best customer experience management, starting the moment a customer engages with the brand.
CMOs Need to Become Fluent in Data Analytics
Marketing is more data-driven than ever before. CMOs need to understand how the data produced with every customer interaction helps them meet today's heightened customer expectations. Thus, the increased use of data in everyday decision-making necessitates CMOs in every growing organization to increase expertise with analytics and data at a level nearly reaching or at par with their CIO's.
Start by identifying the measurable data you have and understanding how it relates to your KPIs. Then work to measure and track the data that allows you to drive KPI performance. Don't lose sight of the main purpose of data and analytics: to understand, shape, and deliver the best customer experience.
Fulfilling Millennials' Big Expectations
The adoption of analytics technology for marketers isn't a mere theoretical exercise in industry best-practices. Marketers need to understand the capacity of the analytics technology to not only grow their business but also position themselves to survive and thrive with the fastest-growing and biggest generational cohort of buyers: Millennials.
Roughly 80 million American Millennials spend $600 billion annually, and this generation's spending is expected to hit $1.4 trillion per year by 2020—or about 30% of all retail sales. Since Millennials are more technologically savvy, they demand the technology they use every day to aid their shopping excursions. They also expect better service and more exclusive products.
Marketers need to use all tools at their disposal to keep pace with this key audience.
Marketers everywhere need to anticipate the marketing challenges and opportunities of the New Year. The progressive improvements in data management and analytics and their subsequent introductions across multiple industries have certainly raised the expectations of customers everywhere thereby elevating the importance of customer experience management to vaunted status within organizations everywhere.
As the curtains opens on 2014, make a toast to the year that was and prepare to meet the marketing trends ahead.