The primacy of Big Data in marketing and advertising has occurred so quickly that it's hard to remember that just a few years ago, Big Data was initially met with resistance. Marketers wondered, "What is it? How will it work? Will the unknown benefits outweigh the known risks?"
Results have a way of speaking for themselves. Early adopters that trailblazed in the past now stand poised to dominate in 2015.
A new order has emerged: the marketing and ad tech sectors have embraced Big Data—thoroughly and completely. In a short time, harnessing the power of Big Data (gathering, synthesizing, and acting on data on a large scale) has moved from an innovation to a critical success factor.
There are many questions about how the evolution will play out in 2015.
Which new advances will have an impact in 2015? Will profits from Big Data marketing be significantly higher? Is there a ceiling regarding how far Big Data can go or is the potential limitless, as global data creation and information collection grows exponentially and the cost of storing data continues to plummet?
Predictions about Big Data can be notoriously problematic, but thinking about the future of Big Data is a productive exercise. With the caveat that these predictions a standard deviation or two of the mean, here are a few predictions.
1. Big Data goes mainstream
2015 will see Big Data management become more mainstream. In many ways, we are still in the infancy of Big Data, but the consistent growth is becoming unstoppable. Essentially, Big Data management is simple: collecting, storing, analyzing, and acting upon large and sometimes complex data using various methods and techniques.
We will see this happening more across companies, and the term "Big Data" will become more widely used in mainstream quarters. Most high-performing companies will continue to refine their data management systems to better serve their marketing teams.
2. Everything goes up in the cloud
One of the problems encountered by businesses trying to manage Big Data was the complex technology involved. Sometimes, lack of understanding and finesse caused some Big Data projects to be counterproductive because of time lapse and results usage issues.
Cloud solutions are already starting to offer a way forward, and 2015 will likely see more steps in this direction. One of the advantages of cloud technology is that it does not need the complicated skill sets necessary in traditional analytics. That alone marks a radical departure in big data management and the analytical landscape.
3. People-based marketing drives digital marketing
To date, Big Data-driven marketing has been fueled by cookie data. Cookies, an invention from when the desktop drove the Web, are no longer the most important data source. As Facebook, Google, and other major players, people-based marketing (what used to be called "direct marketing") will drive a premium in digital marketing in 2015 and soon become the standard.
4. Big Data is called just 'data'
The terminology may well change as the technology becomes standard operating procedure. If the industry standard of data management becomes larger and vast quantities of data and analytics becomes typical, the word "big" could become unnecessary and tautological.
On the bright side, if this occurs, it will mean that the accepted standards of data management and analytics will be so vast, that the volume of such information will be assumed to be big. Either way, it is a great result for Big Data management.
5. The time between collection and results will be shorter
Big Data can take time to collect, collate, analyze, and act on. That means an immediate, tangible result cannot be swiftly realized. For some, this sluggish time lapse between collection and results has been a problem. This year may well see the end to such frustration for some, it not all Big Data devotees. Improved data mining tolls, clearer objectives, and more input from data scientists will combine to create a more streamlined, results-orientated big data process.
Collecting data from consumers has value only if it translates to improved business outcomes and 2015 should see a rise in more rapid ROI results.
6. Pervasive personalization emerges
Just as the explosion of mobile has led to the creation of an unprecedented amount of data, the next wave, The Internet of Things will lead to a tsunami. As The Internet of Things begins to get traction—everything from Fitbits to iWatches to Nests—with sensors becoming ubiquitous, personalized marketing communication will be everywhere. This is a 2020 prediction, but we will begin to see "green shoots" in 2015.
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Predicting the evolution of Big Data can be difficult, but one thing is certain: Big is always going to get bigger (and better) and the companies that succeed will be those that embrace the changes.