2012 Analytics Year in Review and Predictions for 2013

  |  January 2, 2013   |  Comments   |  

Big data was at the forefront of discussions across the Fortune 500, as more organizations become increasingly connected to their prospects and customers. Here's a look back at the biggest trends of 2012, and how web analytics will evolve in 2013.


Around this same time last year, we were discussing the inevitable increase and appreciation of data-driven decision-making with respect to web analytics insights and back-office data insights. This year surprised many of us, with "big data" coming to the forefront of discussions across the Fortune 500, as more organizations become increasingly connected to their prospects and customers.

One of the biggest trends of 2012 had to be the explosive respect garnered by "big data" across pretty much all industry verticals. Several companies made significant progress into garnering attention in "big data" such as SAP, Oracle, Salesforce.com, Eloqua, Google, IBM and Adobe.

This appreciation is a fantastic opportunity for the analytics industry because it allows analysts to break free from the limitations of any one given data source and makes room for creativity process and measurement strategy in the pursuit of business intelligence.

This year marked the beginning of the end of siloed analysis, which will translate into a greater need for analysts to wear multiple hats and diversify their soft skills in order to leverage and manipulate online/web and offline/back-office data.

Not surprisingly, the rise of "big data" also gave rise to a complementary appreciation and increased need for "data scientists." For those of us in the industry, this is where I think the greatest career growth opportunities will likely arise.

One of the key capabilities that distinguish a data scientist from an analytics expert is a deep understanding of statistics and probability, according to Econsultancy. Probability is an important concept to watch within the next 6-12 months, as the next logical step in the evolutionary ladder is optimization based on predictive analytics. The combination of all of these concepts such as "big data", measurement science, and data science trends makes predictive analytics my hottest trend to watch in 2013.

In terms of pure web analytics evolution, this year seemed to carry over many of the existing capabilities that were launched towards the tail end of last year, allowing reporting capabilities and data insights to show positive return on previous investments in tools. For instance:

  • Vendors have made incremental improvements to mobile analytics SDKs, allowing business to catch up and deploy releases that included tracking capabilities. With all the additional time and money invested in mobile experience, my expectation is that next year is when vendors will make their mark with true cross-platform and cross-browser visitor stitching and integrated multi-source and multi-platform attribution.
  • Social media analytics didn't make significant headways in 2012, except in the Obama campaign. My expectation for next year will be more robust social media insights from all the major tool vendors with the rumored access to all of Twitter's historical fire hose. For start-ups late to the social analytics party, this is a potential game-changer.
  • Optimization, user testing, and profiling are three technologies and techniques that continue to hold their own this year. Jim Sterne put it quite eloquently when he said, "we're done with experimenting with experimentation and entering an era of analytics management."

Unlike the baby steps mentioned above, the one glaring exception of a technology that is primed for a blowout year in 2013 is Tag Management. This year, many analytics vendors started offering their tag management solutions for free in an attempt to decrease the interest in vendors such as Ensighten, Tealium, Tagman... the list goes on. Even Google is in on the action! Keep an eye on tag management in 2013, as we can likely expect several new start-ups and significant mergers and acquisitions in this area.

If there's one thing I want to leave you with for the New Year, its optimism.

The good news for the analytics industry as a whole is that our concerns over the privacy debate seem to be fizzling out. That's not to say we don't still have significant work ahead to protect our children and personal information, but at least the industry has come to terms with understanding the regulative/legislative values and aren't panicking anymore. Governments and solution providers, especially in the EU, have come to terms with what it means to be compliant and are working on very creative solutions that should provide a nice compromise for 2013.

This article was originally published on SearchEngineWatch.com on Dec. 26, 2012.

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