What’s creating the biggest seismic shift in how we sell? Predictive analytics technology; bet on it.

We create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data per day — and 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. Yes, Big Data is plentiful – but also meaningless, unless it can be turned into opportunity data. Turning this data mass into actionable business intelligence is a challenge – and offers unprecedented potential…

·         To find insights in new and emerging types of data and content

·         To make your business more agile

·         To answer questions that were previously considered beyond your reach.

Amazon and Apple were among the first to blaze the data-mining trail, with other retailers rushing in to play catch-up. The more you interact with your customers, the more that you know about what they’ve purchased or considered buying in the past, the better you can predict their future needs and be first in line to fill them. And when your customer base is around 800 million, as Apple’s iTunes is, you need every tool at your disposal to make those predictions accurate.

I talked last week about the rising importance of smartphones as a tool with which to interact with consumers – and the rise of the app in helping business to make that meaningful, profitable interaction as close as a consumer’s pocket or purse. This opportunity is growing exponentially, as the number of smartphone users worldwide is predicted to surpass 2 billion in 2016.

According to statistics gleaned from the Pew Internet Project’s research, 64% of American adults own a smartphone, and 44% of American smartphone users sleep with their phones beside their beds, the better to be sure they don’t miss a single message or update. How much closer to your customer can you be than beside them in bed?

Orbitz Labs are constantly looking for smarter ways to put customers onto planes and into hotels, and have come up with an app that utilizes data collected in their experience analyzing flights- and hotel-booking patterns in order to help smart phone users optimize their travel plans. They know where you’ve been; you tell them where you’d like to go, and the app’s tools will clue you as to when the best prices on hotel rooms or flights are available, as well as offer you hotels that match up best with your previous choices and personality profile – all with the aim of helping travelers get the most bang for their bucks, while crafting a travel plan that suits their interests and preferences - and all without the extra step of opening a laptop or a tablet to get that vacation booked. It’s as close as your phone.

Everywhere we hear that the new gold standard for getting and retaining customers is service – but with opportunity data, we can predict our customers’ needs before they’ve expressed them, and offer them what they need before they know themselves. That’s taking service to an unprecedented level – and it’s soon to be the new normal. Don’t be the last to get on board.