Do you consider yourself “data-driven”? If you’re like most business and technology leaders, you do. But the reality is that most businesses have only scratched the surface when it comes to transforming all of that data into insight that drives real business action.

In our 2016 predictions report, my colleagues Brian Hopkins, Jennifer Belissent, PhD., and I predict what will happen in the hottest areas of big data, analytics, business intelligence, and systems of insight — and tell you what to do about it. Here’s a sneak at just a few highlights:

◾Chief data officers (CDOs) will gain power, prestige, and presence . . . for now. The trend toward appointing a CDO accelerated in 2015, and will continue in 2016. CI pros should take advantage of this. How? Extend customer insights beyond marketing to drive a culture of insights-to-execution across the organization.

◾Firms will try to come to terms with data science scarcity. Two-thirds of firms will have built predictive systems capability by mid-2016, but will struggle to find data science talent. Customer insights teams must increase analytic yield without waiting for hard-to-find data scientists. How? Some analytics platforms from vendors like AgilOne, Custora, and Origami Logic can empower business users without a rigorous statistical background.

◾Demand for real-time customer engagement will test streaming technology. Traditionally, marketers use analytics retrospectively to analyze highly structured, at-rest customer and campaign data from customer databases. But as marketing technologists try to build contextual marketing engines, they will need to apply analytics as customer interactions occur in order to drive deeper engagement. To succeed, CI pros must prioritize in-motion data and time-sequenced analysis.

◾Only a few elite teams will take the leap from BI to systems of insight. Only a few BI teams are taking baby steps toward agile BI, and Forrester expects that in 2016, less than a third of these will be ready to make the leap to systems of insight. Why? Because BI and big data are firmly rooted in the technology while business executives impatiently await results. We see better business outcomes in organizations that merge BI and customer insights teams.

These are just a few of the highlights from Forrester's 2016 predictions. Read the full report to see what 2016 holds for marketing and customer insight professionals. One thing is for sure…it takes more than big data to be an insights-driven business.

(About the author: Carlton Doty is an analyst at Forrester Research)

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