What’s in store for analytics in the next 5 years?

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Shawn asked recently,

“How do you see the field of analytics changing in the next 5 years?”

This is a terrific question with a nuanced answer. If, by analytics, we mean the specific process of taking data and explaining what happened in it – harkening back to the original Greek analein, to loosen up, then analytics as a profession will go away in 5 years.

Machines are becoming more and more capable of explaining what happened. Data analysis software that cost millions of dollars a decade ago are open source and free to anyone skilled enough to implement them today.


Tools like Watson Analytics make detailed analysis inexpensive and accessible to anyone. We won’t need human analysts just to crank out reports, charts, etc. – our machines will be more than capable of creating anything we need with natural language requests.

If, by analytics, we mean the general process of taking data and extracting actionable insights, then machines will do the analysis, we’ll provide the insights, and machines will execute on our findings.


In the hierarchy of analytics, we are entering the predictive era. In the next 5 years, I expect us to fully embrace predictive analytics and begin venturing into prescriptive analytics.

If you’re entering the field of marketing analytics now, you’ll need some fairly advanced skills to remain a highly-valued contributor in the years to come. You must have a solid foundation in statistics, database administration/storage, cloud computing technologies, and at least one machine learning language such as R, Python, or Java. You should also have extensive experience and certification in platforms like Google Analytics, Google AdWords, BI tools like Tableau Software and Watson Analytics, adtech platforms like Adroll and other DSPs, and marketing automation software.

If you can bundle together all this expertise together with knowledge of strategy and innovation, you’ll be an unstoppable force in the marketing technology world. You’ll have the right skills to leverage predictive analytics and usher in the era of prescriptive analytics in the years to come.

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