As 2015 comes rapidly to a close, a number of high tech leaders are making their predictions for what we can expect in the New Year. Among them is Vik Singh, CEO and founder of Infer, who told Information Management of the growing role that data analytics will play in marketing next year.

Prior to founding Infer, Singh was an Entrepreneur in Residence at Sutter Hill Ventures (SHV), where he helped the firm identify new ideas as well as evaluate early stage investments. In 2009, MIT’s Technology Review listed him as one of the Top 35 under 35 Innovators for his contributions to search. Vik has filed 13 patents in the areas of search, social networking, systems infrastructure, and content optimization.

According to Singh, data analytics will have four primary areas of impact on marketing in 2016:

The Balkanization of Marketing Automation

“We’re seeing a huge shift in how marketing is working with sales," Singh explains. "Their roles are blurring and there’s a lot of fluidity in where the lines are drawn between tasks that are the responsibility of a marketer vs. a sales rep. Salespeople are creeping up the funnel, while marketers are creeping down. For example, sales teams are now using what would traditionally be considered email marketing tools to do things like sending (and tracking) personalized 1:1 emails as opposed to generic newsletters."

"Specialized apps like Yesware, Outreach.io, and Autopilot have become so sophisticated that they’re now starting to infringe on what has historically been considered the territory of monolithic marketing automation systems -- email templates, drip sequences, etc. This year the role of marketing will evolve, and we’ll see more CMOs start to share responsibility for the revenue metrics with their counterparts in sales,” Singh says. 

A Changing of the Guard in Enterprise GTM

“Anyone who’s tried to build an enterprise sales team has probably heard from their recruiters that they should be targeting talent from iconic enterprise software companies like IBM, Salesforce or Oracle," Singh says. "These businesses have huge sales machines and well-defined sales training, and most enterprise software startups want to replicate their playbooks."

"But there’s a changing of the guard underway when it comes to these shining stars of enterprise go-to-market. Now the leading experts are those who’ve cracked the code on how to leverage data science for sales and marketing," Singh says. "Emerging icons like Zendesk, New Relic, and others are scaling rapidly and hitting insane growth rates much faster than most legacy software companies because they’re taking a truly data-driven approach. These startups are embracing open architectures and APIs to build best-of-breed technology stacks that meet their GTM needs. In 2016, all eyes will be on these innovative companies to see how they re-write the book on enterprise GTM best practices.”

Predictive intelligence grows up

“According to David Raab, principal at industry analyst firm Raab Associates, 2015 has been the breakout year for predictive analytics in marketing, with at least $242 million in new funding for startups that pioneer this new technology, compared with $376 million in all prior years combined. 2016 is poised to be an even more disruptive year," Singh says. Consider the following, he advises:

• "Businesses increasingly depend on external data signals to develop sales strategy. Traditionally, businesses have only had access to their own internal sales data, from which all strategic decisions were derived. Predictive intelligence startups are now able to continuously unlock hidden value from virtually unlimited external data that can help businesses make more informed sales decisions."

• "Sales becomes increasingly automated. 2015 saw an incredible influx of solutions that provide useful sales intelligence, however much of it is presented by way of a difficult-to-manage “firehose” of information. In 2016, predictive analytics will become smarter and, rather than simply providing data for businesses to sift through, predictive platforms will offer businesses dynamic recommendations based on changing variables and sales conditions."

• "M&A activity will heat up. Established sales and marketing vendors like Salesforce, Oracle (Eloqua), Marketo, and more will choose to snap up smaller, more specialized startups to build out their predictive intelligence offering. We saw a number of acquisitions in 2015 and with the recent flurry of investment, we’re sure to see even more in 2016."

Sales development tech slows revenue loss

 A 2014 study conducted by Accenture and CSO Insights found that sales inefficiencies cost companies more than 3.2 percent in possible revenue and that recapturing this potential revenue requires a combination of training, technology-enabled sales tools, and better use of data and analytics, Singh notes. Key findings from that study include:

• 59 percent of sales representatives are expected to achieve his/her quota, down from 67 percent in 2013

• Only 51 percent of sales organizations use a formal step-by-step selling process and only eight percent have a formal sales methodology implemented

• Sales teams spend less than 40 percent of their time selling

• Fewer than 20 percent use analytics to spot cross-sell opportunities

Citing Craig Rosenberg, head analyst at TOPO, Singh noted, "Our latest research of high-growth business-to-business organizations showed that 72.4 percent plan to buy sales development technology in the next year. The sales development automation movement is driven by a number of key factors including the increasing importance of sales development, the trend toward targeted outbound prospecting, and the emergence of predictive technology that helps companies to hone in on their ideal customer profile. The big buying trends in sales development over the next year are predictive platforms to manage and optimize all of their sales communications.”

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