As a person who makes his living toiling in the salt mines of Big Data analytics, I find myself frequently looking ahead and trying to divine what's next in our profession. With 2014 upon us, a few trends seem to be emerging that I believe will make this year exciting for all of us ... and perhaps a bit challenging for many of us.
- Here's to the winners. The Big Data hype cycle is winding down. I believe 2014 is the year consolidation will begin in earnest. The winners and losers in Big Data will become clear as a "standard" technology stack emerges. Ease of use will also improve, creating opportunities for more organizations to employ Big Data analytics.
- Take two aspirin and call me in the morning. Prescriptive analytics (or decision optimization, as we say at FICO) will be the "it" type of analytics. There will be a big uptick in the number of organizations applying machine learning to their analytic insights to make better decisions for strategic planning, manufacturing, selling, supply chain management, marketing, scheduling and nearly every other aspect of business operations.
- The only real valuable thing is intuition. With all due respect to Albert Einstein, intuition may not be the only valuable thing. But it's definitely a biggie. I expect more organizations to realize that domain expertise is a critical asset that helps analysts develop the intuition to understand what their data is really telling them, which findings are truly important, and when additional analysis is necessary.
- Systematic, hydromatic, ultramatic! OK, perhaps my nod to Grease is a bit much. But I know that without a systematic approach to testing and learning, analytic methods rely on random chance to solve problems. In 2014, more organizations will embrace systematic experimentation to make analytic discoveries faster and more efficiently. With the cloud acting as a great enabler, systematic experimentation will lead to the smarter and more proactive use of analytics.
- We want you! I've discussed this in the past and I feel it bears repeating. The analytic talent shortage will grow. Recruiting headaches for hiring managers will persist. Salaries for analytic professionals will increase. And the popularity of analytic degree programs will take off. I expect this dynamic to stay with us for several years before we approach equilibrium in talent supply and demand.