The year 2020 may seem fantastically remote, but it actually will arrive in less than seven years. So it’s not too early for CIOs to start preparing for a business and consumer landscape that may be substantially reshaped by continuing developments in Big Data. A recent report called “Big Data Democracy” from Intuit and Emergent Research makes several predictions about how businesses will have to take a very different approach at the dawn of the next decade in order to stay competitive. Following are a few of the most significant ones.
Consumers Hold Power
Intuit predicts that increased consumer access to pricing information and the insights of fellow shoppers will create an atmosphere of “turbocharged competition” where consumers are constantly hunting for the best bargains and products. Consumers will also regularly participate in the nascent activity of “social shopping,” which allows groups of friends to collaboratively shop via social media networks and streams of text, images and video.
In addition, consumers will increasingly make “value-influenced decisions,” meaning increased visibility of data on product sustainability and other broader issues will impact buying decisions beyond factors such as product quality and price.
Privacy Must Become Great
The report bluntly states that “being good isn’t enough” for privacy. As more and more personal consumer data becomes stored (and potentially accessible) on the cloud, consumers will demand that businesses make every possible effort to protect it. Companies that do not make transparent efforts to go “above and beyond” in protecting consumer data will see their brand reputation suffer dramatically. In addition, industry and government data privacy and security regulations already show signs of growing tougher.
A Level Playing Field
Small businesses will especially stand to gain from the explosion of Big Data. They will obtain actionable insights previously only available to their larger competitors, aided by inexpensive, cloud-based tools. In addition, small businesses will be able to aggregate their own data with reams of anonymous Big Data for greater insight. Launching a successful business will become simultaneously easier and harder, as even the smallest companies will have the opportunity to innovate their way to widescale success, but the extent of competition will also become much greater.
Revenge of the Non-Nerds
Good-naturedly, it can be said the past couple of decades have been the “Revenge of the Nerds,” as technical and mathematical prowess have become more important than ever. But the easy availability of deep insight and innovation Big Data will create for everyone, “nerds” and “non-nerds” alike, will make actual technical expertise a little less important. In addition, the development of simple cloud-based tools to perform extremely complex algorithmic analysis will eliminate many jobs currently held by statisticians, mathematicians and data scientists.