Smarter people than me — like Niels Bohr — have noted how devilishly difficult it is to predict the future.

Five years ago, would any of us would have envisioned  consumers spending more time with their smartphones and tablets than they do with the TV? Would we really have predicted that smartphones would be the consumer’s go-to-tool when they are in a retail outlet?

Crikey, you say to yourself (or maybe not), now we’ve got smartwatches and the Internet of Things (IoT). We’ve got beacons. All of these are real right now.  What’s next?

My advice to you — we’ve got plenty to deal with right now. Try to not spend too much time looking out beyond the next two to three years.  Smartwatches, the IoT and technologies like beacons are, in fact, here now.

There remain some issues with beacons and how marketers in retail and, say, hospitality can fully leverage them without creeping out customers.  However, beacons and proximity technologies have demonstrated value to marketers in retail or hospitality as these technologies provide insight into how customers with a mobile device are moving through a store or a hotel’s locations.  So focus on how these technologies can be utilized.

Being aware of the bleeding edge of technology is important, being a slave to it, as a marketer can be paralyzing.

And we can help with avoiding that paralysis.

As we waltz toward the end of 2015, these phenomena are simply our new reality as marketers.  While these rapid changes in consumer behavior have added complexity to our jobs as marketers, a whole new set of tools and techniques are available that help marketers manage changes as I described above.  Data-driven marketing is the new norm. Creativity and hunches, gut feel and all the other “soft” approaches to building strategies and tactics are still useful, but data, analytics tools have to be used to validate hunches and gut feel.  Hunches talk, data-derived strategies and tactics swear, to paraphrase Bob Dylan.

More important, data-driven approaches give us the insights we can use to validate predictions that we make about our business, customers and prospects.  For example, one of the research reports we feature this week on Gartner for Marketing Leaders, is our “Predicts 2016: Intelligent Marketing Technology Will Bring Generational Change” (subscription required.)  The common thread: analytics and the use of data to identify opportunities, highlight inefficiencies in campaigns or techniques, derive meaningful and actionable customer segments and personas.

So check out our take on the future. Collectively, these insights can help you make your own future.


1 Comment
  1. 5 December 2015 at 11:31 am
    David H. Deans says:

    You said, “Data-driven marketing is the new norm.” But does this mean progress, when the typical legacy marketing organization merely applies their advertising-related data to justify a media-buyer view of the world?

    My Point: too many CMOs that were schooled in the mass-media era still equate digital marketing as being nothing more than small incremental tweaks to their advertising campaign-centric perspective. In contrast, those marketers that invest the time and effort to learn new content marketing skills, as an example, will use data insights in more creative ways. The future of those progressive individuals should be easier to predict, since they’ll likely be in the minority.

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