I can say this with absolute certainty: The holiday season will underscore the impact of big data on retail. Already, the early sales results begin to tell the story, pointing towards data-rich e-commerce as the big winner.

  • From comScore: Black Friday alone saw $1.042 billion in online sales. That’s the first time online spending on the day after Thanksgiving has crested $1 billion, and it’s also a respectable 26 percent increase versus Black Friday 2011. Even Thanksgiving Day, which is usually a lighter day for online spending, came in at $633 million, a solid 32 percent increase over last year.
  • From NRF: The average consumer spent $172.42 online over Black Friday weekend. That’s about 41 percent of their total weekend spending, up from about 38 percent last year. Meanwhile, in-store sales appeared to be mostly flat.

Of course, now the question at the top of the agenda is this: Where will we go from here? Long after the holiday sales numbers are finalized, how will big data continue to alter the business landscape in 2013?

Looking ahead, here are the big data trends I’m expecting in the New Year:

More and different use cases. Technology (i.e., “data”) now permeates the enterprise. As big data analysis tools, techniques and processes mature, organizations will discover new ways to act on the information they gather. The impacts will be huge –and not just for business. At Teradata, we envision use cases that extend far beyond the marketplace. We want to use big data to create a better world, one where medicines are delivered faster to the people who need them, where global communication is more effective and more efficient, etc. (See my earlier post about how big data played a role before, during and after Hurricane Sandy.)

Enhanced collaboration and integration. Successful new use cases will surface only if collaboration and integration improve across data sources. Both internal and external processes must be evaluated to identify synergies with potential to add value. Here’s a powerful example from the business sphere: eBay used big data analytics to conquer complexity and save millions on IT infrastructure costs.

Better insights. In 2013, we won’t be talking as much about the definition of big data or why it’s important. (It seems we’ve all thoroughly digested those topics.) Instead, the conversation will shift to how businesses can put all this information to work. We’ll be focused on questions like: Which data is the data that matters? How can we best use it? As I’ve mentioned before, big data leads to improved decision-making. How? Because big data enables us to know more, and the more we know, the better our decisions. Of course, better business decisions lead directly to more business value.

Amped up mobile wars. Mobile devices (especially tablets) are at the top of consumer wish-lists this holiday season. Watch for the mobile advertising market to explode in parallel as new data processing techniques and analytics unlock “the Holy Grail,” i.e., how to find audiences most likely to convert, based on time, location and buying behaviors. As data processing capabilities improve, marketing will get smarter –and in turn, consumers will increasingly expect a new kind of customer experience, one that’s grounded in personalized, relevant messaging.

Increased scrutiny of privacy issues. Who owns the data generated by a smartphone, an iPad, an internet search, the swipe of a credit card at the register? How can these inputs be used? Who is allowed to use them? It’s time to lock down the answers. Not surprisingly, many think new guidelines regarding FTC regulations, the Canadian Anti-Spam Law the EU e-privacy directive, etc. raise more questions than they answer, proving that the debate over privacy/ethics concerns regarding big data is enormously complex. Businesses need to be proactive, adjusting their practices to maintain not only compliance, but also consumer trust (no easy task, considering how confidence in private and public institutions has plummeted over the past few years).

That’s a brief synopsis of the major big data trends I see on the horizon. Keep in mind, though, that one of the most intriguing aspects of big data is that it is constantly evolving. The big data we know today won’t be the big data we have to deal with tomorrow. Consequently, I fully expect we’ll face new issues along the way, as well. Are you ready? I am. It’s shaping up to be a very exciting New Year.