Never before has data been so vital to a business or so readily available. Most modern enterprises have troves of data constantly at their fingertips through cloud, on-prem, internal and third-party databases and many types of data platforms, from ERPs to BI, CPM and CRMs. Data and the analysis of this data have become increasingly strategic to most businesses, and every employee is now an analytics user.

2017 data trends

The challenge is not the accessibility of data or making a case for its importance within a business model, rather the ability to quickly and accurately interpret it and leverage it for the benefit of a company. Because of this challenge, many data visualization products have sprung up in recent years to help organizations get more meaning from their data and, in turn, help their businesses augment productivity and growth.

In 2017, these data platforms (ERP and the tools created to increase the value of ERP: BI and CRM) and the way people use them will continue to evolve — in unexpected shifts that disrupt the status-quo. Here’s what to look out for.

ERP: No Longer Monolithic + Stronger Real-time Capabilities

The ERP climate is changing much more than in past years and CIOs and other tech decision-makers have a lot to keep up with. The clunky and convoluted ERPs of yesteryear are being upgraded through integration with new platforms that provide superior visualization. Powered by advances in technology, these real-time integrations remove the need for Excel “dumps” and ETL to datamarts.

2017 will see more of the integration of ERP with newer third-party systems that enhance real-time data interpretation. Enterprise organizations are particularly looking for real-time capabilities, and new technologies are emerging that can handle a billion transactions in real-time when synced to the traditional ERP. Rather than moving to several different platforms that specialize, I believe 2017 will see businesses integrating their ERP with just one other system to avoid potential version control issues and inconsistent data.

This integration and transformation of ERP will reduce significant IT and finance overhead and put the power of information in the hands of the decision makers instead of the IT department. Now companies can more efficiently respond to markets and competitors.

BI: Shifting Away + Moving to CPM

Enterprises are shifting from using BI to visualize their data to CPM solutions, which inherently understand and accelerate business processes. More organizations are discovering performance management better serves the needs of their business, and we’re seeing CPM RFPs for the first time.

As demonstrated in past years, companies are gravitating to self-service analytics, or data platforms and visualizations that don’t require advanced IT knowledge and a dedicated IT staff to navigate. In 2017, CPMs will increasingly become the self-service analytics platform of choice as decision makers find their ability to budget and plan on CPMs more useful. With CPMs, enterprises will leverage data to visualize their future, a capability that many are finding is the best means to long-term growth and higher performance.

In conjunction with enticing future planning capabilities, businesses will adopt CPM because of their advanced visualizations. CPMs are aggressively sharpening their graphics and visualizations as competition to be the best heightens, all in favor of the customer. In 2017, CPM visualizations will extend beyond traditional reporting to illustrate immediately recognizable opportunities, challenges and trends, with the ability to drill down and examine single facts and figures.

CRM: Data-Driven Retention Marketing + Sales

CRMs and the deep customer knowledge they host will become even more important in 2017, as recent figures show that the cost of acquiring a new customer can be anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one.

Customer retention and message individualization will be a top priority for both the sales and marketing departments in 2017, and CRM engineers are rolling out new technologies to meet these needs. CRMs are increasingly providing more robust data-driven retention marketing technology, including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. In 2017, we’ll see AI-powered bots being deployed to sift through ever-growing, massive data sets to identify applicable information, and the use of machine learning and predictive algorithms to take the guesswork out of marketing.

With these nascent technologies, CRMs will also enhance real-time hyper-targeting, which will individualize messaging, timing and delivery for micro-segments. Automated data collection, target account prioritization and contact specific intelligence are just around the corner in 2017.

Data in 2017

Ian Bertram, managing vice president at Gartner, explains the trend toward democratizing data well: “It is no longer possible for chief marketing officers (CMOs) to be experts only in branding and ad placement. They must also be customer analytics experts. The same is true for the chief HR, supply chain and financial roles in most industries.”

As Bertram describes, leveraging data is key for every decision maker in a company, and these non-traditional IT roles are looking for ways to visualize data that’s real-time and more intuitive.

2017 will bring these requests to life, as ERP integrates with newer technologies, BI shifts to CPM and the CRM becomes more marketing savvy. Perhaps 2017 will be data nirvana, but we have yet to see.

By Paul Yarwood, CEO of Hubble by