Forrester’s 2016 Predictions: Turn Data Into Insight And Action

Three of four architects strive to make their firms data driven. But well-meaning technology managers only deal with part of the problem: How to use technology to glean deeper, faster insight from more data -- and more cheaply. But consider that only 29% of architects say their firms are good at connecting analytics results to business outcome. This is a huge gap! And the problem is the ‘data driven’ mentality that never fights it’s way out of technology and to what firms care about - outcomes.

In 2016, customer-obsessed leaders will leapfrog their competition, and we will see a shift as firms seek to grow revenue and transform customer experiences. Insight will become a key competitive weapon, as firms move beyond big data and solve problems with data driven thinking.

Shift #1 - Data and analytics energy will continue drive incremental improvement

In 2016, the energy around data-driven investments will continue to elevate the importance of data and create incremental improvement in business performance. In 2016, Forrester predicts:

  • Chief data officers will gain power, prestige and presence...for now.  But the long term viability of the role is unclear. Certain types of businesses, like digital natives, won’t benefit from appointing a CDO.
  • Machine learning will reduce the insight killer - time. Machine learning will  replace manual data wrangling and data governance dirty work. The freeing up of time will accelerate data strategies.
  • Firms will try to sell their data; some will succeed, most will sputter.  In 2016, an increasing number of firms will look to drive value and revenue from their data exhaust. Despite the promise, most companies will struggle to master the intricacies of protecting personal information and the appropriate business models. 

Shift #2 - Data science and real-time analytics will collapse the insights time-to-market. 

The trending of data science and real-time data capture and analytics will continue to close the gaps between data, insight and action. In 2016, Forrester predicts:

  • A third of firms will pursue data science through outsourcing and technology. Firms will turn to insights services, algorithm markets, and self-service advanced analytics tools, and cognitive computing capabilities to help fill data science gaps.
  • Streaming ingestion and analytics will become a must-have for digital winners.The window for turning data into action is narrowing. The next 12 months will be about distributed, open source streaming alternatives built on open source projects like Kafka and Spark.
  • Algorithm markets will start to get attention. Firms will recognize that many algorithms can be acquired rather than developed. Just add data. For example, services like Algorithmia, Algo Market, Data Xu, Precision Hawk, Alogrithms.org, Algorithms.io, Kaggle, and galleries from AzureML's and Big ML will gain traction. 

Shift #3 - Connecting insight to action will only be a little less difficult.

Closing the gap between insight and action is the big unfilled hole we found in 2015. In 2016, that gap will be hard to close for all but the most advanced leaders. However, by the end of 2016, energy around big data will be substantially redirected towards insights execution. In 2016, Forrester predicts:

  • Half of all IT-led big data hub investments will stagnate or be redirected. Business satisfaction with analytics output fell by 20% between 2014 and 2015. Next year, impatient business leaders will shut down or redirect big data investments that fail to deliver a measurable impact on winning, serving, and retaining customers. 
  • Only a few elite teams will take the leap from BI to Systems of Insight.Only a few teams are taking baby steps toward agile BI, and Forrester expects that less than a third of these will be ready to take the next leap - Systems Of Insight
  • Data brokers and insights innovators will collide in the insights services market. Technology vendors, data brokers, and marketing data management platforms (DMPs) all recognize the opportunity to sell insights, not data, as a service. But, they are rushing to meet the demand with entirely different strategies. Expect chaos in 2016. 

I provide more context, proof points and make recommendations in my report - Predictions 2016: The Path From Data To Action For Technologists.

What else do you think is going to happen?