As we settle into 2015, now is the time to be thinking about the future of marketing and what this may look like.
Research doesn't need to just be about learning what is already there; it can also be leveraged for making predictions. This is a trend that is expected to take traditional marketing into a new realm of intuitive, planned and, as a result, effective activity and positioning.
Moving on from insights
While gaining in-depth insights into your audience has always been an important goal, a new level of understanding is also needed to achieve a fuller picture.
Instead of focusing on what has happened, we need to start thinking ahead. Considering insights into current or completed activity as the end goal of research can limit the learnings that are available to shape future direction.
The shift to readily available data and the application of this within the marketing function is opening the door to a range of new predictive tools. With these, we are in a good position to move forward into 2015 with an eye on the future, rather than the past.
"Data reduces the need for guesswork, increasing the chances of getting it right." (PwC, 2014). However, not knowing how to leverage this data into more actionable insights runs the risk of missing the true findings.
Looking ahead with predictive analytics
Fortunately, the importance of predictive research is not being lost on the marketing professionals who are looking to the future. Forecasting is becoming increasingly crucial, and this is driving a growing adoption of the tools, software and solutions needed to make this happen.
In fact, many experts agree the chief marketing officers (CMOs) of the future will practice "decision science". "CMOs and senior marketers are becoming scientific and more focused on understanding which potential customers are most likely to become new opportunities, but more importantly which potential customers are actually good and qualified potential customers." (Darian Shirazi, Radius, 2014).
Once predictive analytics are applied in business strategies, 68% of organisations reported increased competitive advantage, while 55% found new revenue opportunities and 52% were able to increase profitability (IBM, 2014).
The importance of forecasting
As we have clearly seen over the past few years, consumer behaviours and preferences can change dramatically in a very short time. The adoption of smartphones and tablets has happened seemingly overnight, yet the next big development could change things again in an instant.
To demonstrate the incredible growth potential, we can look to the significant rise in mobile internet usage in Australia. Between 2010 and 2013, the number of Australians connecting online via their mobile device climbed by a massive 208% (Magna Global, 2013). Now, more than three-quarters of Australians access the internet on their mobile device, up from less than one-third in 2010.
This demonstrates just how fast consumer behaviour can change, with the introduction of new devices and technology.
With this rapid change, no company or researcher can predict buyer behaviour and trends with 100% accuracy. However, forecasting helps your business handle the uncertainties of the future, and have strategic plans in place to react when needed.
To remain competitive and successful, organisations need to proactively detect these trends and issues. This is where research forecasting solutions can help.
Getting started with forecasting analytics
It's time for marketers to turn their focus to what could and will happen next, which requires data and engaging in more insightful research. The key to achieving this is using the right analytic and research tools.
Predictive analytics are primarily driven by data from customers (69%), marketing (67%), products (55%) and sales (54%). (IBM, 2014). It is therefore important that organisations are able to gather and analyse data from all of these sources, in order to action effective forecasting.
While this may sound like a significant undertaking, the process can be made simple with the right support. The important step is simply to get started. Placing research and forecasting strategies within planning will give you the tools you need to prepare for customer trends, industry developments and the responses your business needs to remain competitive.