At the beginning of this year I wrote an article about how 2015 will be a crucial year for big data and we would see marketers make great strides in their ability to make sense of this data and turn it into actionable insights. It turns out 2015 was an important year for data analytics. We saw a number of new players, such as Domo, enter the space with booming success. We also saw many well-established organizations release new analytics platforms, such as Salesforce’s Analytics Cloud, making big data analytics more accessible to the masses. Marketers now have even more tools at their disposal that allow them to jump head-first into big data.

However, marketers are finding this style of analysis is too slow for such a rapidly-changing and increasingly on-demand marketplace. The need for big data automation has emerged. Tools that can constantly analyze your data while simultaneously putting the insights to work.

You’ve Spent the Time Combing Through Your Data

By now you’ve likely spent a vast amount of time and resources digging through your data and hopefully, this led to some powerful insights for your business. With revolutionary analytical tools we have been able to find the answers to many “why” questions marketers are always asking. Questions like: 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?

In 2016, instead of simply giving marketers the tools to analyze their data, there will now be access to tools that will answer the “why” questions before you can even ask them. These tools will not only be answering the questions, they will be using those answers to automatically optimize your marketing.

The Transition from Data Analytics to Data Automation

IDC forecasts that the big data technology and services market will grow at an annual rate of 26.4%. In 2015, big data made the leap from data capture to data analytics. Marketers decided it was time to make sense of the tremendous amount of data at their fingertips. In 2016, big data will make its next big leap from data analytics to data automation. Automation technology will be responsible for the analysis of big data as well as the implementation of big data insights. Here are a few trends we think will dominate big data technology in 2016.

Machine Learning: Computer sciences will continue to be the driving force in big data, and is now zeroing in on machine learning. This is the development of algorithms that are able to continuously learn from your data and make predictions based on the data.

Predictive Lead Scoring: Lead scoring allows marketers to determine which leads are the most qualified and should be the highest priority for their sales team. These scores are typically based on information captured through forms, such as email address, title, industry, etc. Predictive lead scoring takes this concept to the next level by analyzing your existing database of sales opportunities to determine which leads have the highest chances of converting to paying customers. These solutions take into account a number of indicators in order to assign a score to your existing leads. Many vendors also will sell you lead lists for the companies that scored highest against your model. Vendors such as Lattice Engines, EverString, and Mintigo have started to gain a lot of traction and we’ll likely see more solutions next year.

Programmatic Buying: The advertising industry is being turned on its head. An increasing number of advertising channels are turning to automated ad buying as opposed to traditional buying. Programmatic began with online advertising and was a way for marketers to have more effective ad campaigns without having to spend a lot of time managing them. This programmatic strategy has been so successful because decisions are made based on big data and ads are only shown to the audience with the highest chance of converting. Other advertising channels such as TV and print are starting to follow in this direction and this will accelerate rapidly in 2016.

Mobile Marketing: Mobile has become an indispensable channel for reaching consumers. People are connected to their smartphones like never before, and they are even being referred to as the “remote control for your life.” In 2016, marketers will continue to apply mobile targeting methods and find innovative ways to apply the abundance of mobile data. This past year we saw beacon technology rise to popularity which allowed marketers to get their brand in front of consumers in the right place and at the right moment. 2016 is set to be another exciting year for mobile marketing. If you’re interested in hearing what 20 marketing experts are predicting for the future of mobile, check out our DialogTech 20/20 Insights.

Big data holds exciting possibilities for marketers. With so much data being created every day, marketers have a lot of information to analyze and put to work. It is time to move past manual analysis of big data. This type of analysis is too slow for our fast-paced, digital world. 2016 will be the year when big data automation comes into the spotlight. Early adopters will gain a competitive advantage, making it a must-have for your marketing organization.