Insights and Analytics Trends for 2020

In early December, the CMA Insights Council met to discuss trends and hot topics for 2020. The Council is made up of research professionals, senior analytics practitioners and data-driven marketing leaders who all brought different perspectives to the table. Although members’ opinions varied, the Council agreed on five key themes that would define insights and analytics in the year ahead.

1. Improving data literacy

One of the major obstacles to fully realizing the potential of insights and analytics is the lack of universal data knowledge within marketing teams. Specifically, marketing teams often lack “data literacy,” which is defined as having the ability to interpret, understand and communicate the categories of data available to influence or address a particular situation. In short, marketers don’t need to be data scientists, but they should be able to answer the following questions:

    • What data is available (including attributes and sources)?
    • What data is valuable to my business and what is not? What might be valuable down the road?
    • What processes are in place to retrieve information and understand the insights?
    • What questions do I need to ask in order to get actionable insights from the data?

The Council expects that in 2020, more organizations will create formal programs to promote greater data literacy across all roles.

2. In-housing versus outsourcing insights capabilities

The Council discussed the decisions marketing organizations face around doing more work in-house versus leveraging external resources. The Council predicts that in 2020, organizations are more likely than ever to build insights and analytics execution in-house, while still relying on external service providers for consulting and specialized strategic services. While in-house capabilities often allow for better speed to market and insights sharing, the Council cautions that relying too much on these capabilities removes a valuable external perspective. This year, marketers will be challenged to do more with less, and this is going to lead to more questions about in-housing versus outsourcing.

3. Overcoming survey fatigue

Forrester predicts that customer survey overload effect is on the horizon, which is the result of organizations asking customers to complete CX measurement surveys and then not applying the feedback. This rings true with many Council members, who admit to declining survey response rates and difficulty in getting customers to join panels or complete lengthy questionnaires. This trend is likely due to customers’ increased disillusionment with the limited impact of survey results on processes and operations, and in 2020, leading marketers will respond to customers who do take the time to complete surveys and will make more concerted efforts to apply their feedback.

Canadian marketers will also be exploring new and different ways of capturing information and insights beyond surveys, including social listening and behavioural analytics. However, the research professionals on the Council caution that it’s important that the right tactics be used for the right situation. For example, sentiment analysis is a good tool for picking up major storms and trends but is not ideal for day-to-day customer satisfaction analysis.

4. Increased scrutiny on third-party data

In 2020, marketers will be taking a closer look at their data sources. The Council had a lively discussion around the merits of first-party data (information organizations collect from their own sources) versus third-party data (information aggregated by organizations with no direct relationship with the consumer). In the digital advertising space, notable events have driven policy changes and regulatory attention to third-party data, causing increased scrutiny on the data itself as well as on how it’s being collected. Despite this, the group agrees that third-party data continues to be important for many Canadian marketers for acquisition, personalization, data cleansing, validation and augmentation. However, organizations are holding themselves and their partners to a higher level of accountability and the Council anticipates that the trend of increased partner vetting and documentation requirements will grow. For example, major browsers (Safari, Firefox and soon Chrome) are already starting to limit the use of third-party cookies, which may change the landscape of third-party data in the digital advertising space.

5. The need for speed

The expectations around speed and scale continue to expand, and organizations have a growing desire for their insights and analytics to be real-time so that faster decisions can be made. As a result, many marketing teams are looking into the use of streaming analytics and continuous intelligence as a means of gaining a competitive advantage. While this has typically been most feasible for large transactional businesses (for example, banks and telcos) the idea of faster, real-time analytics translating into real-time marketing actions is something more organizations will be exploring in 2020.

Without a doubt, machine learning and AI tools will play a role in enabling this. The Council raised the consideration that, as we leverage these tools for speed and scale, we need to be more transparent about methodologies and key drivers of the insights we are using to make decisions. Both marketers and service providers that can share the “why” behind the insights rather than just offering a black box solution will be more successful this year.


Scot Riches is the Chief CRM Officer at RI and the Chair of the CMA Insights Council. The Council discussion was inspired by some of the predictions found in these articles:

https://go.forrester.com/blogs/predictions-2020-customer-insights/
https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/gartner-top-10-data-analytics-trends/
https://cmo.adobe.com/articles/2019/9/5-adtech-predictions-for-2020.html#gs.j79jzs

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