2020 Digital Data Trends

How will brands harness their data in 2020 to deliver their business goals? In this post we’ll explore how companies can take advantage of digital opportunities and be smarter with data to set them apart from the crowd. We’ll explore these 5 key areas and explain where we see them heading: connected customer experiences, data science, personalisation, democratisation of data and data privacy.

1) Data to drive connected experiences

Customers expect all of their interactions with a brand to be consistent and to flow together seamlessly. If they aren’t getting a seamless experience across web, mobile and other channels, it’s likely that you’re going to lose them. Offering a disconnected experience can damage the perception of your brand and put you at a disadvantage against your competitors.

But, how is this achievable? You need to start with your data, making sure you know exactly how customers are interacting with your content to enable you to engage with them at every step of their journey. By knowing this, you can adapt your content continually so it’s always personalised and relevant (see trend 3 below).

In order to really do this well, many companies are working towards building a single view of the customer, but it’s still an area where few companies are mature. As the available tools get smarter, we should see more and more companies develop in this area, and as they do, their ability to provide connected experiences will grow. 

2) The continued rise of data science

This year, we expect to see data science teams continue to grow as companies become more focused on data and strive to deliver AI driven experiences.

Many AI tools are now easier to use and we expect to see them filter into more traditional businesses, particularly image recognition and Natural Language Processing. It seems that most new tech products have some level of AI embedded, but to take it further, many organisations are now looking to build their own algorithms to catch up with the industry leaders.

As we move forward, we are also expecting to see the emergence of AIaaS, or AI-as-a-Service. Businesses recognise that they hold goldmines of data, but are unsure how they should harness it. However, huge corporations, such as Google, realise that by directing huge resources in this area, machines can complete data analysis that would take dedicated teams weeks to complete, in seconds. For example, Google is now offering APIs for image recognition and NLP.

There are, however, more questions to be answered surrounding AI, particularly ethical stances, which we have covered in previous articles. These include potential biases and the emergence of deepfakes. 

3) Personalisation is smarter, but we’re still evolving how we use it

We’ve been talking about personalisation for years, and most companies are using it to enhance their customer experience.  

Personalisation has become smarter over the last few years, with out-of-the-box recommendation engines using AI to deliver intelligent recommendations to customers, while personalisation platforms are using AI decision-making to auto-target customers with the best performing experience for their segment.

So we’ve got clever tools to tailor certain aspects of the customer experience, but how many brands have a clear personalisation strategy for their end-to-end customer experience? This is something many are still developing.  

A solid personalisation strategy starts with data: understanding customer segments, their size and potential opportunity to improve against KPIs.  With data science we can take this further by conducting deeper analysis, for example with clustering, in order to understand our customers even better, and deliver superb bespoke experiences.

4) Democratisation of data is key

We all know we should be using data to inform decisions, but sometimes we can’t get the numbers quickly enough.  Perhaps the data we need just isn’t available, or it’s only accessible through an insight team with a long ticket queue.

As companies strive to become more data driven, they need to improve availability and accessibility of data throughout their business.  If decisions will be made based on data, people need to know the data. Making this happen is all about good data governance – having a clear structure for managing the accuracy, availability and security of the data.

Building a structure and set of processes to allocate responsibility for data quality and access rights will ensure the right people can use the right data, and they can trust that the values are up-to-date and correct.  

Choosing the right tech can help too. Various different types of tools on the market, from analytics to data visualisation, are focusing on making data easy to understand and spread throughout the business. Some do this by presenting data in visual, user-friendly ways, while others focus on easy sharing and collaborating on data, and flexible user permissions.

We can also help to enable teams to use data through training. We don’t need to make everyone an analyst, but providing an understanding of your company’s data, customer segments, what we can learn from the data, and what we can use it to activate will empower teams to use the data available.

5) Data Privacy still a top priority

Going into 2020, data privacy continues to be top priority. Individuals are continuing to become more and more aware about how their data is used, and they are seeking transparency and value in exchange for companies processing their data.

On top of evolving user perceptions and expectations, regulations are also continuing to progress. Last year, we published a series of articles exploring the ICO’s guidance on the use of cookies and how this would be impacted in the light of GDPR and PECR. This year, we expect the debate around cookies to continue, particularly with Google following other browser companies in phasing out third party cookies.

Additionally, later this year, enforcement of the California Consumer Privacy Act will commence. Similar to GDPR in Europe, California is leading the United States’ efforts to give individuals control of their personal data. Depending on the size of your business, wherever in the world you’re located, if you handle the personal data of people in California, you will need to comply with the new legislation. It’ll be interesting to see how this is enforced, and also the precedent that this regulation sets for other states.

Our best tip is to have a clear data privacy strategy in place, and more specifically, when it comes to regulations, make sure your consent policies are up-to-date.

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