Analysts have been trying to predict human behaviour since the 1890s, if not before. Unlike Freud, modern analysts are fuelled by data and their efforts show substantially more promise.
Extracting valuable insights from a sea of data has taken longer to master than some predicted. The explosion in data analytics coincided with a global recession and a period of political confusion: it’s harder extracting useful information from a population that has no spare cash and no longer understands its choices.
Innovation is always underrated and overrated over a number of iterations before the right balance is attained. Research and analyst firm Gartner recently issued predictions  that err distinctly on the side of doom and gloom, suggesting drastic downsizing of marketing analytics departments by 2023. However, recruitment firms are seeing no downturn in the demand for top professionals.
Bigger better data
If analysts thrive on data, then logically their numbers must grow as their habitat does – and it’s certainly growing. Five years ago there was relatively meagre information and it wasn’t always of particularly high quality. Today, data resources gleaned from web tracking, search engines and social media are absolutely enormous. The Daily Mail reports  that Google now holds so much information that Mankind needs a new number to describe it; something bigger than exabytes, zettabytes, and yottabytes.
It is not only bigger but also better. Regulations such as GDPR have served to improve data quality rather than reduce its quantity. Gartner’s second prediction is that user control of their own marketing data will reduce customer churn by 40%.
With far greater resources, we are likely to need more analysts not fewer. Even Gartner concedes that human analysts will soon be supplemented by data collection systems driven by A.I. By 2023 (they predict) 55% of marketing messages will be sent by autonomous systems and 30% of web content will be machine generated, based upon keyword algorithms and customer journey criteria.
In any campaign, KPIs, milestones, and metrics are essential to keep things on track and adapt if not. Big Data isn’t just a-priori market research; it can track what is happening as campaigns progress, something which has proven to be notoriously difficult in the past. Data allows PR to stay active during the customer journey.
Michael Brito, executive vice president of analytics at Zeno Group, believes that the greatest opportunities for analysts lie in monitoring real-time changes in behaviour instead of trying to predict volatile markets in advance. He says “The market changes so quickly that if you change something for next year or next month, it’s probably not going to happen or it’s going to be irrelevant” . It is better to know what the audience is sharing on social media right now.
Taking a longer view, data-informed campaigns aren’t about getting one step ahead, but about keeping up. Big Data has become the environment in which all businesses now exist. If you don’t use it, your competitors will.
We face a future in which markets, technology and social patterns will be changing at unprecedented velocities. RC&A can shoulder your senior digital resourcing burden and ensure that you survive and prosper in this brave new world.
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