We are living in the era of Big Data. The amount of data being collected has been growing exponentially, with no sign of slowing down anytime soon. It is predicted that in 2015, worldwide spending on Big Data-related software, hardware, and services will grow to $125 billion (IDC). Big Data provides a treasure trove of possibilities for marketers, but we have spent so much time fine-tuning our data collection that we have not moved beyond basic forms of analysis. This will be the year that companies small and large will take their data analytics to the next level. Turning data into truly actionable insights will supercharge your marketing and make your data more precious than ever.

Data Capture: The Foundation of Great Analytics

Capturing mass quantities of data is the foundation of strong analytics. Data can answer questions like, how many people saw my pricing page? Which product is selling best online? How many people clicked on my ad? These answers are easily attainable with basic analytics tools. Once you have robust, accurate data flowing in, it comes time to make sense of it all.

This year will be all about answering the “why” questions. Why are people seeing this product page? Why are certain people buying one product instead of the other? Why are people clicking this specific ad? The ability to answer the “why” questions will revolutionize your marketing. You will be able to drive more customers to specific outcomes instead of just measuring a thousand different data points.

Moving from Data Capture to Data Analytics

The initial stages of Big Data largely focused on data capture. Now, it is time to shift that focus towards data analysis. This pivot from capture to analysis is causing an explosion of new analytics solutions. While introducing their new Wave analytics platform at Dreamforce earlier this year, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff justified this new venture with very simple statistics: “Did you know 90% of the world’s data was created in the last two years? There’s going to be 10 times more mobile data by 2020, 19 times more unstructured data, and 50 times more product data by 2020.” Salesforce has done an outstanding job of capturing enormous amounts of data, and now they will give their customers better tools to make sense of it. Salesforce is not the only company to arrive at this conclusion and 2015 will see a high number of companies entering this space. It is now time to start figuring out what to do with all of this data. Here are a few trends that we think will emerge in the world of marketing analytics in 2015.

Business Intelligence and Data Visualization: Gone is the time when Business Intelligence (BI) meant an expensive, clunky tool from a software company like Oracle or SAP. BI tools have become more user-friendly and have put more emphasis on data visualization. Having a data scientist who can run extremely complex data models is great, but spreadsheets can be hard to present to your board of directors. That is why it is crucial for analysts to offer great communication and storytelling. Analysts need to present data in a way that makes sense to almost anybody. New BI and data visualization tools are making this much more attainable, as well as becoming easier to access through the cloud. According to Gartner, “by 2016, 25% of net-new BI and analytics platform deployments will be in the form of subscriptions to cloud services.” BI and data visualization are becoming easier to use and more readily available. This will open up the opportunity for companies of all sizes to gain incredible insights from their data.

Analytics of Things: As more and more of our devices come with the ability to connect to other devices over the web, the Internet of Things (IoT) will continue to rapidly expand. Companies such as Nest are now collecting data on thermostat usage. Cars are becoming more deeply integrated with smartphones. The future of IoT will involve things like your alarm clock turning on your coffee maker, and your fridge will tell you when your milk has spoiled. IoT is going to produce more data than ever, and figuring out what to do with that data leaves a tremendous amount of possibilities for marketers.

Rich Media Analytics: Image, video, and audio are all continuing to grow as marketing channels. The ability to measure and analyze these media formats will be crucial as spend on them continues to rise. Knowing how many views your YouTube video has is great, but what does that really tell you? Imagine knowing when people stop watching the video, or how many people really looked at pictures on your website. Rich media analytics will give marketers the ability to truly take their advertisements and digital collateral to the next level. Analytics for rich media in 2015 will become more granular, measuring more than just views and conversions.

Mobile Analytics: As smartphones continue expand their footprint, and the technology inside of them continues to become more advanced, the amount of data resulting from this will increase at an increasingly rapid rate. For marketers, this presents a unique new opportunity to access the consumer on yet another screen. Mobile marketing can improve brand recognition, boost ecommerce, and increase the number of phone calls coming into your business. All of this mobile activity is generating the need for new forms of data capture like call tracking, mobile website optimization, and mobile app analytics. With the number of local mobile searches bypassing desktop searches for the first time ever (eMarketer), 2015 is sure to be another year of rapid mobile advancement.

Analytics for Everyone: Data has become such a powerful force in marketing that it can no longer be left up to analysts to capture and analyze every piece of information. Data is becoming essential to every marketing role, making it necessary for everyone to have a hand in analytics. In 2015, data analytics will increasingly become more user-friendly so that every marketer on your team will be able to, on some level, analyze the results of their marketing efforts.

Data-driven marketing will continue to be extremely important for marketers in 2015. However, the definition of data-driven marketing will evolve. It is no longer enough to just look at the data being spat out by Google Analytics or Salesforce. Analyzing that data in order to answer all of those “why” questions will be what 2015 is all about. Once you can answer the “why,” you can start driving more consumers towards your desired outcomes. 2015 will be a big year for data, but it will be even bigger for marketers who turn that data into actionable insights.