2015 Data Analytics Industry Predictions

By Cameron Dow, Vice President, Marketing SAS Canada

The rise of big data has led to a new era of data-based decision making. Today, the use of analytics in decision-making has become a common business practice. Whether an organization is using analytics to make better decisions for strategic planning, manufacturing, selling, supply chain management or marketing, analytics touches nearly every aspect of business operations as organizations strive for better performance and increased revenues.

The fact is, using analytics to drive better, more informed business outcomes is the new normal and the sooner businesses are able to shift away from traditional hierarchical decision-making to a more data-driven culture, the sooner they'll realize a greater ROI. In 2015 organizations can’t be left making critical business decisions based on gut instinct; it’s time to place your bets on analytics for the sure win.

Here’s my take on the top data analytics industry predictions for 2015:

Cyber Analytics

It seems every few months a large organization announces that it has been compromised. Traditionally, data and network security has focused on firewalls, intrusion detection and intrusion prevention. Security specialists are beginning to realize that putting up a barrier doesn’t always work. As fast as experts put up a firewall, savvy hackers find a way around it—or through it.

It turns out the key to stopping hackers in their tracks is data – lots and lots of data. Public and private-sector organizations all over the world are starting to use something called Cyber Analytics to defend their systems. They are taking internal and external information—from firewall data and behavioural profiles to cyber threat intelligence and fraud alerts—analyzing it in real time and identifying anomalous patterns of activity that in the past would have gone undetected. What used to be a liability is now an asset, as data becomes the key to recognizing threats before they materialize and identifying clandestine activity before it becomes a breach. Now organizations can spot potential hacks and prevent them from occurring. In 2015 more organizations will turn to analytics to heighten their cyber security capabilities.

Cloud Analytics

Cloud computing fundamentally changes the way IT services are delivered and consumed, offering a range of benefits like business flexibility, operational efficiency and economies of IT and scale. In today’s economic climate of increased customer expectations, accelerated business pace and fierce competition, organizations need to make better use of their ever-increasing volumes of data for fact-based decision making. More and more enterprises are taking their data use to new levels and applying business analytics to support rigorous, constant business experimentation that drives better decisions – whether it involves testing new products, developing better business models or transforming the customer experience. The challenge to provide better information faster is changing the traditional approach to information technology and many organizations are increasingly turning to cloud solutions to help drive their business needs.

Cloud computing’s ability to provide elastic scalability, faster service delivery, greater IT efficiencies and a subscription-based accounting model has broken down many of the physical and financial barriers to aligning IT with evolving business goals. With its promise to deliver better business models and services quickly and cheaply, cloud computing has become a major driver of business innovation across all industries and this trend will continue in 2015.

Cloud computing techniques, are enabling organizations to deploy analytics more rapidly throughout their organizations while lowering the total cost of ownership through reduced hardware costs. SAS Cloud Analytics have grown 3 per cent year over year (YOY), last year alone the YOY increase was 20 per cent. The cloud phenomenon is also addressing the analytics talent gap as companies that don’t have sufficient analytical talent in-house are looking for hosted solutions to provide analytical insight.

The Data Skills Shortage is Real!

As enterprises increasingly recognize the value of the vast volumes of data they collect, the demand for people who can unlock that value is rising sharply. The McKinsey Global Institute predicts that by 2018, there will be a shortage of as many as 190,000 data scientists in the US alone. SAS has joined Canada’s Big Data Consortium to lend industry insight to an upcoming study from Ryerson University that will be launched in early 2015. The study will try to understand the analytics skills shortage in Canada and what can be done to address it.

Prospering from big data is moving beyond simply employing new technologies to organizations clamoring to build teams of experienced analytics users in order to stay competitive in a global data economy. SAS has seen this drive first hand. SAS® Analytics U, a broad higher education initiative that includes free SAS software, university partnerships and engaging user communities that support the next generation of SAS users has been downloaded over 111,000 times since its introduction in May 2014. Applications for two of Canada’s Master’s in Analytics Programs has more than tripled year over year. SAS is currently working with over 40 Universities and Colleges across Canada, supporting over 60 SAS courses from coast to coast. By 2015, over 3,000 students across Canada will have learned how to apply analytics techniques using SAS, 250 of those will graduate with SAS certification and SAS will be used by more than five-hundred MBA students in Canada. Although the skills shortage will continue to be an issue, the situation is slowly improving.

As nearly every industry starts to embrace a new era of data collection, management and analysis, forward-thinking schools all over Canada have clearly responded by offering innovative courses to ensure Canadian graduates have the analytics skills that businesses need. 2015 will be a promising year for these analytically savvy graduates as organizations race to hire the best of their class.

Real-time Analytics:

In this always-on culture, consumers are more demanding in how companies interact with them. Today’s consumer wants the right message delivered to the right channel, to the device of their choice, at the time of their choosing. As mobile devices continue to proliferate, marketers will need to understand the needs of the mobile user and be ready to deliver real-time, relevant communications with each and every customer communication.

While real-time marketing is not a new term, the key for 2015 is to use real-time analytics to feed an extremely complex consumer marketplace. With offers, advertisements and marketing messages being sent from every possible direction, savvy marketers can no longer bombard consumers’ senses. In an ideal world, consumers receive messages that are tailored, relevant and timely – and offered to them based on their actions and behaviors in the past, or better yet, how we might act or behave in the future. These personalized offers are consistent regardless of the channel that is being used. They enable technology, such as beaconing hardware sensors that are designed to wirelessly communicate and transmit data with mobile devices within a specific proximity, to enable in-store promotions, geolocation targeted messaging and shopper analytics.  In other words they deliver the offer at the moment of truth - a moment that matters most to a customer’s purchasing decision.

This is the customer experience that has come to be expected and only analytics can drive the type of real-time insights that underpins personalized marketing.  In 2015 it will be key for decision-makers to have access to up-to-date, accurate and relevant data, which needs to be available to them in real-time to allow them to make the right decisions.


There’s no doubt that data is helping to improve everything from driving better marketing insights to healthcare delivery to urban infrastructure. Success stories are bountiful in this regard. But many organizations are applying analytics as a standalone activity isolated from everyday business operations and decisions, limiting its true value. 2015 is the year to operationalize analytics into all lines of business, enabling front-line, day-to-day business users and decision-makers – sales people, marketers, engineers, business unit managers - to optimize their business outputs and decision making.

Originally Published in Direct Marketing Magazine.



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