The data economy and its accompanying technology are changing the world. The drivers of change below identify technological and data collection developments that are shaping how people work and live and how what they do is captured and perceived by others.
Big data, data analytics, and artificial intelligence are enabling predictive analytics used to anticipate needs, opportunities, and threats in an organization’s environment. The market for predictive analytics is growing rapidly, and major computing companies are key players. Organizations view predictive analytics as one of the most important ways to leverage big data.
Blockchain technology uses a distributed digital ledger to record data, contracts, and transactions, financial and otherwise, without the need for third-party validation. While bitcoin was the first proof-of-concept for the efficacy of blockchains, blockchains have applications beyond virtual currencies. By embedding trust in the algorithms of the blockchain, blockchains can enable trustless transactions and data exchanges, eliminating the need for supervision by intermediaries or government authorities.
The drive to leverage big data will lead to more data-gathering and more effective use of existing data. An increasingly important form of data analytics is “fast data,” which emphasizes real-time decision-making based on the idea that the greatest value from data comes from immediate application. Examples include fraud detection, recommendation engines, personalization, and real-time demand forecasting. In all of these cases, the value is dependent on quickly processing and acting on the data—and this value can diminish quickly as the data get stale.
Risks to digital infrastructures are growing, even as dependence on them rises. Employees are both worried and harried—concerned about digital privacy and security in the workplace, and tired of the difficulty and complexity of maintaining system security. Associations face the same internal risks as other organizations but also have opportunities to support their members in new ways.
Marketing and Advertising Transformation
Advertisers and marketers are exploring innovative ways to connect with the public. Online advertising is growing, but concern is rising about vulnerabilities to abuse for other purposes, including fraud, as well as whether the model is even effective. Meanwhile, innovations in marketing and advertising are reshaping practices and assumptions by blurring the lines between marketing, entertainment, advertising, and content.
Nichification: Big Data Segmentation
The big data revolution makes it feasible to define new niche demographic segments that share common motivations and interests and to target them with tailored and tested appeals. Associations will be able to communicate to and even predict the interests of very specific segments but will run the risk of limiting broader audience awareness of content and messaging.
Personalized Artificial Intelligence
Rapidly advancing machine learning is combining with data analysis to enable software equipped with increasingly accurate pictures of consumers’ lives and likes. This technology can support personalized microtargeting and allow organizations to offload customer service work to chatbots and other interfaces. Individuals may interact more and more with software that seems to know and understand them, sometimes better than their friends.
Taming Big Tech Dependency
A handful of global consumer-technology platforms—Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, and their subsidiaries—increasingly shape entertainment, news, commerce, and even personal interaction. The unprecedented (and still growing) power and influence of these companies create a variety of challenges for both governments and civil society, prompting governments to step up their oversight.
Who Owns the Data?
In the United States, there is a growing movement among technologists and consumers to give individuals more control over data about themselves (their identifying information, online communications, purchasing histories, social media habits, etc.). This idea may prove a challenge to existing industry models, as free consumer data is the lifeblood of many popular online services and programs, particularly mobile applications.