I've never been one to look at the runes or to study tea leaves. For me, I need to have some science at my fingertips if I am going to make predictions about the future. It's why I am a lousy gambler.
Growing up in the comms world where PR meant persuading journalists to write positively and accurately about your client, the science was often lacking. I lost count of number of times I said that I can't guarantee the outcome of an interview or product review. I did all right and the majority of clients got what they wanted.
But things have changed - we've grown up. PR has evolved and it's big brother - marketing - has most certainly matured into a responsible adult. Today, thanks to technology, we have the tools to make predictions about outcomes with a level of certainty that would be greeted with cynical scowls only five years ago. And these tools are not the domain of the mega brands.
The opportunity now is, as this Forbes article explains, for businesses of all sizes to embrace what's possible and to learn to use predictive analytics. It's not the domain of nerdy data scientists anymore -- it's mainstream. And it's rapidly encroaching on my world of communications.
It's coming from two directions. We, the communications industry, must embrace the technology as much as our marketing colleagues do. We must look for ways in which data can inform strategy. We all need to become more data literate.
And secondly, we must demonstrate these data skills so that we can apply pressure to our clients to open up their data banks to us. We need to break down the barriers of information and let agencies from across the communication spectrum use customer data to build better, more effective campaigns.
If we do that, I'll no longer have to cross my fingers when delivering on client campaigns. I'll have looked into the technology sourced 'tea leaves' and I'll know what the future holds.
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