For those who longed for a breather, even the briefest of respite, from all the mega pieces of data that is pouring from the seemingly endless number of sensors, trackers and locators that mine the digital landscape of commerce the past few years, there appears to be no letting-up in the coming year. The New Year promises to birth even more volumes of “big data” from even more sensors, trackers and locators that monitor consumers purchasing motions and promise to predict their every want, desire and position as they move about their busy days. All the data, and what to do with it, is not a new dilemma for marketers. Gartner IT forecasts there will be 6.4 billion internet-connected things in 2016, up 30% from 2015. In the coming year advanced algorithmic / programmatic approaches will need to expand and become even more common as consumers continue to expand their usage of smartphones, tablets, desktops, smart TVs, and game consoles. Merging consumer behavior data from an ever expanding array of devises presents a formidable challenge to marketers going forward
If ever there was a great example of too much of anything to be good, the bountiful fruits of data collection rise to the top of the list. But do not despair, new, more efficient data analytics is trending forward. According to Forbes, only 15% of Fortune 500 companies are currently using big data analytics but one trade group reports that businesses are beginning to invest a larger share of resources into data analysis. Spending on efforts to make better sense of the data is expected to grow by 23% each year until 2019 and privacy issues will become a value to which customers will respond. How well a business handles of all of their personal information is more critical than ever as consumers elevate privacy issues in their list of importance. Nearly 33% of all online adult consumers have canceled a transaction due to privacy concerns. Organizations are warned to keep data security as an important element in their overall digital marketing strategy.
Social selling is poised to go main stream in 2016 as social media sites like; LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter initiate plans to enable social selling through their platforms. But creative, brand specific content will evolve to replace much of the “boiler plate” messaging currently blanketing the landscape. Businesses will need to sharpen and expand their message in order to be heard above all the noise. Quality of message will dominate quantity of message and those with the most original and compelling content will dominate all others in the space. With 65% of buyers reporting that vendor’s content had an impact on their final purchase decision, cultural, customer centric content is imperative in order to capture a lion’s share of the data driven, consumer market. Loyalty programs will continue to be an effective tool but will need to focus more on improving participation while strengthening the bond between the customer and the brand.
With the threat of a shrinking global economy, “lean and mean” is an operations strategy poised for a reprise in the coming year. Innovation and optimization will be in the forefront of an effective and efficient operational strategy. Despite a few rare successes of flamboyant start-ups in the past year like: Airbnb, Dropbox, and Square, it is predicted that the IPO market is slowing down and investors becoming more risk adverse. Successful star-ups, as well as established firms looking to expand in the coming years will need to become fixated on getting the most out of every investment dollar.
Unfortunately for those seeking a pause to the chaos and disruption caused by the proliferation of new technologies, the immediate future is likely to produce even more of the same. Organization that embrace the challenge and advance their efforts to reap the benefits of creative solutions are most likely to be the businesses that move forward in the list of those who dominate their market.