About the author: Alex Dean is the founder and CEO of Snowplow. He is a polymath: a keen technologist with a passion for functional programming, cloud-based architectures and big data technologies. He also has a passion for innovation and organizational change. Prior to co-founding Snowplow, Alex worked in technology roles at OpenX and in the Business Intelligence department at Deloitte Consulting, as well as strategy roles at Fathom Partners and Keplar LLP. Alex has also written a notable text: Event Streams in Action
With the shift away from third-party cookies, an increased use of machine learning and the lasting impacts of COVID-19, 2021 was a key year for data strategy, forcing many to seek improved methods of getting to know and interact with customers. But the data transformation is still in full swing, and as we move into 2022 and beyond, emerging trends will continue to reshape the way data is gathered and used within organizations. And those who watch these trends carefully will have an advantage in years to come.
- The death of cookies and more – a brave new balance between personalization and privacy
A shift to a more consumer-centric approach and away from legacy advertising is happening thanks to some of tech’s biggest companies changing their policies. Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework and Google’s commitment to phasing out third-party cookies by 2023 are some of the most impactful changes to data privacy. And these shifts are driving businesses to create new plans to ethically engage with consumers.
To bolster customer service while respecting privacy preferences, there will be an increased focus on collecting first-party data as well as building more direct data relationships with consumers through initiatives like loyalty programs, intelligent products and risk reduction.
Savvy organizations will also shift focus from knowing everything about consumers to simply understanding enough. This strategy will help businesses balance personalization with data protections to ensure data democratization. It will also help businesses avoid the mistakes of companies like Facebook (Meta), which incurred outcry by implementing a level of data capture that far exceeded what was necessary to provide stellar services.
- Behavioral data matures – the quest for quality over quantity is on
Behavioral data is a specific type of data that can provide unique, granular insights into how end-users, consumers and shoppers interact with a website, including browsing activity on various devices, what pages or products are viewed and every step to purchasing and beyond. This type of data is finally coming of age and the use of it will become much more sophisticated in years to come.
Data is continually increasing in velocity, volume, variety and veracity. Driven by the sheer amount of data that is available to organizations, businesses will shift from simply collecting more to collecting better behavioral data. This shift toward quality will help companies personalize customer service, improve product analytics, reduce churn and much more.
The shift toward more intentional and less indiscriminate behavioral data consumption is thanks in part to changing privacy data frameworks and the emergence of event tracking solutions like Google Analytics V4. Organizations are also quickly realizing that not every behavioral event is worthy of investment due to factors like time, quality and cost to capture. With newly freed up bandwidth, more precise behavioral data practices will allow businesses to refocus their strategies.
- A growing array of data tools is requiring better integration
The number of data tools used within most businesses will continue to grow, with many different solutions for different departments, like data analytics, testing and personalization. Alongside client-side tracking solutions, many organizations are also investing more in tools on the server side and the semantic layer, which is crucial for data mapping.
To reduce the complexity, more vendors will collaborate with one another to develop superior tooling and enable data to flow freely between systems. Expect more vendors to work together on single uses cases, which will contribute to a new standard within modern data stacks. This standard will enable businesses to integrate data better and reduce the risk of project failure.
Prepare your data strategy now
The future of data will require a greater focus on quality, integrating tools more effectively and learning how to understand and engage with customers more transparently. Organizations who make these adjustments swiftly will both save time when the newest data capture policies become permanent and retain customers who will expect more control over data privacy going forward. Ultimately, the way companies will align with this new mode of operation will mean the difference between moving successful into the digital future, or staying behind.