How Data Will Predict the Future

anticipatoryintelligence October 26, 2017

The market for predictive analytics is growing, and associations are contributing to that demand. The ASAE ForesightWorks action brief on anticipatory intelligence offers an introduction to how association leaders can approach this driver of change.

We generate data every day. Visiting websites, making purchases, selecting movies to watch—all of these actions provide information about us to inquiring minds. But all the accumulated data has to be turned into something meaningful to be of value, and that need for meaning has made data analytics a growing field.

Now data crunchers are taking that information to the next level—not only analyzing past behavior, but also using data to predict what people will do. Through machine learning and the exploration of accumulated data, organizations can anticipate how people will engage with them and strategize to increase that engagement.

Anticipatory intelligence has the potential to improve associations’ ability to create value for members, identify potential members, or carry out successful development campaigns.

A new action brief from ASAE ForesightWorks , the new environmental scanning program from ASAE Foundation research, provides an introduction to the potential applications—and challenges—of predictive analytics for associations. The action brief provides key data points and insights, identifies possible futures, and suggests steps for leaders who want to tackle this driver of change head on.

Challenges and Opportunities

How quickly might you need to strategize around this change? Changes related to anticipatory intelligence are in a growth stage and moving at a “medium to rapid speed.” In other words, you’re starting to see it now, and soon it may be everywhere.

Development of predictive analytics capabilities will depend in part on how people react as they become more aware that their choices and activities are being logged in data repositories. Negative reaction could lead to greater government regulation of data and artificial intelligence (AI).

However, while the instruments of anticipatory intelligence might raise fears of “being watched,” people often appreciate the outcomes. Predictive analytics and AI allow for increased personalization and faster responses to customer questions, even by corporate entities. It’s also possible that people will become accustomed to living with continuous data collection, particularly as the use of AI tools becomes ubiquitous but undetectable in everyday life.

Potential applications for anticipatory intelligence in associations include activities related to marketing, meetings, learning, and business services.

Associations are already developing intelligence from the data they gather to inform market strategies, predict meeting attendance, and develop education and event schedules. Many large associations have already added analytics staff to help them mine and examine their data. Machine-learning-based intelligence is the next horizon for data collection, though it is probably still in the distance for most associations and even for-profit companies.

For associations that represent data-driven industries, that horizon is approaching fast. The market for anticipatory intelligence is growing in those fields; the market for predictive analytics in healthcare, for example, is predicted to total $19 billion by 2025. But even the association industry will be affected. Potential applications for anticipatory intelligence in associations include activities related to marketing, meetings, learning, and business services.

Preparing for the Future

Several steps are essential for organizations preparing for the future of data analytics:

Get a handle on your data. Data security and integration are critical to effective analytics. Recent ASAE Foundation research on technology identifies elements of data management and cybersecurity essential to your members’ peace of mind.

Understand what your data is telling you. Whether you have analytics staff, hire consultants, or take courses to improve your own data-crunching aptitude, having someone who can sort through the numbers and explain their meaning to key stakeholders, including the board and senior staff, will advance the data’s utility in strategic decisions.

$19 billion The estimated market for predictive analytics in healthcare by 2025

Keep gathering intelligence. Regardless of your current ability to collect and mine data, you’ll find lessons and inspiration from companies at the forefront of this change. Talking with your colleagues and peers will help you think through how anticipatory intelligence might create change for your organization. These conversations might also open avenues for collaboration or data sharing—just make sure you’ve thought through your data security and transparency concerns.

Anticipatory intelligence may revolutionize associations’ ability to connect with members and anticipate their needs. While data cannot replace experience and machines cannot replicate human interaction, predictive analytics has the potential to support efforts to create better experiences for members. By preparing now, leaders will be ready to tackle this change in the future.