End of third-party cookies, data talent shortage, and rise of behavioural data are key data trends for 2022, say experts

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Behavioural Data Platform, Snowplow, has outlined its top predictions on how data will reshape businesses in 2022.

Compiled from the knowledge of its team of highly skilled data science, engineering and analytics experts, and its experience working with data teams worldwide, the company shares it thoughts on the key regulatory, technology and consumer changes that will influence how data is captured and used within organisations.​

1. Limits on third-party cookies will renew focus on first party data

Companies will shift spend away from advertising to more customer-centric approaches, driven by the roll out of Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework in 2021, and Google's commitment to phasing out third-party cookies by 2023.

One of the most impactful changes to the data privacy environment for years, businesses will be forced to put new plans in place to understand and engage with customers, including a renewed focus on collecting first party data and building more direct data relationships with customers via loyalty programmes, intelligent products and risk reduction.

2. The battle for data talent will erupt

2022 will see a growing squeeze on data talent, especially for data engineers. Prompted by Covid-19, which forced organisations to understand their customers better and deliver digital offerings rapidly, companies will battle to secure the services of the most highly-skilled data practitioners. At the same time, the number of data roles and specialisations will increase significantly, driven by architectural changes in the data stack. Job titles such as data product manager, data governance manager, data/information steward, machine learning operations manager and artificial intelligence operations manager will become commonplace within large organisations.

3. Businesses will need to re-establish the balance between personalisation and privacy

2022 will see a change in emphasis from understanding customers better to understanding customers ‘well enough’, or at an appropriate level to the customer's expectation of what is necessary to provide the service. One of the key drivers of dissatisfaction with Facebook (or Meta) is that the level of data capture built into Meta's products is much higher than that necessary to provide the service, and this same sentiment will be reflected across businesses worldwide. Companies will need to ensure data democratisation and balance personalisation with privacy protection.

4. Data teams will need to de-centralise to drive efficiency

As uptake of machine learning and artificial intelligence rises, demand for easy-to-understand, easy-to-work-with data will skyrocket in 2022. This will include a real ramp up in the need for data catalogues, visualisation and analysis tools to help derive and visualize meaning from data. Many organisations have formed centralised teams to tackle the problem, but this has created bottlenecks for others who need to access these insights. Companies will need to decentralise their data strategy and teams to maximise efficiency, and ensure it is accessed by the people who need it.​

5. Behavioural data will come of age

2022 will be the year behavioural data starts to come of age. Overwhelmed by the sheer volume of data available, organisations will shift their focus from simply collecting more data to collecting better and deeper data. This will translate into increasing demand for high-quality behavioural data, with benefits to businesses that make proper use of it, ranging from personalised customer service to product analytics and churn reduction.

Consumption and use of behavioural data within organisations will become more intentional and less indiscriminate, partly prompted by privacy framework changes and the emergence of event tracking solutions like Google Analytics V4, and partly prompted by increasing data maturity as organisations realise that not every behavioural event is worthy of investment (in time, quality, and cost to capture).

Alex Dean, Co-founder and CEO, Snowplow, comments: “2021 was a key year for data strategy with the shift away from third-party cookies, uptake of machine learning and Covid-19 all forcing companies to seek new ways of better understanding and engaging with customers in the digital age. In 2022, data privacy rules and regulations will continue to be key in shaping how customer data is used, but demand for easily accessible rich behavioural data, plus the staff and modern data stacks to make use of it, will take centre stage.”

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