January 2nd, 2019 | by

“Big data” is very 2012.

But big data has historically referred to gobs of behavioral data. Most conversations around big data reference healthcare data, GPS/location data, data within government and education systems, financial data – all personal information at the consumer level.

As customers, we got used to the big-data treatment – fast. When we Google Thai restaurants, we expect results near us, plus driving directions from our current location. We expect grocery store coupons that reflect our dietary needs. We don’t mind ads in our Facebook feed or Spotify playlist – as long as they’re for the same cute boots we were browsing on Instagram.

B2B big data wasn’t quite there.

We expect major gains in the sophistication – and volume – of B2B data in 2019. Here are some data predictions we’re looking forward to.

B2B big data is big business

BIG business. Research from TOPO supports this.

The research and advisory firm recently shared proprietary insights from their own analysts and offered up some predictions for 2019. Highlights include a contracting tech stack, increased emphasis on customer experience, and renewed focus on preventing churn.

But what we found most intriguing were some numbers behind TOPO’s predictions surrounding data; specifically, the coming “B2B customer data tsunami:” How big is it, how can we operationalize it, and what competitive advantages will it bring for forward-looking organizations?

But this wave of B2B data raises other questions too. How do we deal with data breaches? Privacy regulations like GDPR? Where do we store and access all of this data? How, who, and when will we consume this data regularly for it to have a meaningful impact?

We don’t have a crystal ball, but here’s what we’re expecting in 2019:

Prediction #1: B2B will get serious about customer engagement data

SaaS organizations are leading the crest of the data wave, because they can – or should be – collecting customer data through their cloud-based product or service.

That user data may come in many forms:

  • What is the most frequent user workflow? How do different click-paths support different use cases?
  • What times of day are users most engaged in the platform?
  • What are most frequent users’:
    • Title
    • Location
    • Other demographics
  • What level or type of engagement is most indicative of customer satisfaction, or lack thereof?
  • Where are users getting hung up in a process or workflow?
  • How well are users adopting product changes or updates?
  • What features or functions are the most popular and should be prioritized for maintenance and updates?

Customer engagement data is extremely valuable; it tells a story about how your customers specifically interact with your product, completing a feedback loop.

But of the organizations who collect this data today, many simply haven’t been prepared to operationalize it.

We predict 2019 will be the year B2B organizations get serious about collecting user data and start using it to dictate action – revealing the most popular features, customers most likely to churn, users in need of additional training and more.

Prediction #2: B2B Intent Data will (start to) go mainstream

We’ve been big on Intent data for years, through our partnership with Bombora.

Intent Data is online behavior-based activity across the internet that links buyers and accounts to a solution, idea, or related topic.

We’ve noticed a few factors that prevent companies from realizing the benefits of Intent Data:

  • A lot of organizations struggle to make Intent Data operational
  • Many organizations are not sure how to interpret the data to then develop relevant actions as a result
  • There’s a major skills gap in hiring employees who know how to use it

TOPO’s research suggests that, as Intent Data goes mainstream and becomes more integrated, it will become part of the prospect lifecycle. “Sales Development Reps still don’t know what to say,” TOPO’s analysts add. “We still have to teach the skill of cold outreach. But they know what to do.”

The use case for Intent Data

Intent Data lets teams communicate with prospects earlier in the cycle: Your prospects are out there, right now, with a problem you can solve. They’re searching online, reading content, learning about options, and forming opinions about solutions.

And they’re doing it without you. In an era of self-directed research, according to SiriusDecisions, the average B2B buyer is 67% of the way through the buyer journey before they ever engage with a salesperson.

When paired with a target account list or territory, Intent Data shows organizations who is most ready to buy – and who they should reach out to now.

Another interesting use case suggested by TOPO is segmenting by Intent rather than traditional segments. While firmographic and demographic segmentation is important in determining a company’s fit or lead score, prospect intent is useful data for focusing marketing efforts, too.

We think 2019 is the year Intent Data moves into the sales and marketing stack, and the skills will follow.

Get up to speed on Intent data.

Prediction #3: THE in-demand skill set: B2B data management

The IBM Marketing Trends Report calls it “the hottest new role” in marketing: Director of Marketing Data. No, that’s not really a title (yet), but it’s a huge job that can no longer be done piecemeal or siloed.

A role like this would put data integration, data collection (and associated data governance issues), and implementing policies for structured and unstructured data, cleansing, enriching, etc. under one roof.

“In addition to working with technology vendors and internal teams on data integration, this new role will create processes, rules and procedures to ensure that critical data is collected and integrated into a customer data platform (CDP),” says IBM in their 2019 Marketing Trends report. “… Data integration and marketing data architects will emerge as new and vital roles in marketing organizations.”

To maintain a competitive edge going into 2019, companies should look at customer data as a critical part of larger data-driven decision-making process.

As for integrating that data and making it actionable? That’s a whole different challenge – and that’s where we think 2019 is going to drive our industry.

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About the author

DeAnn Poe

As the Vice President of Marketing at DiscoverOrg, DeAnn and her team are responsible for sourcing 50% of the company’s pipeline and revenue through inbound and outbound demand gen programs. DeAnn has over 15 years of experience serving in Demand Gen and MarComm functions at software companies across a variety of verticals. DeAnn holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from California State University, San Marcos. She is Inbound Marketing certified, a Certified Trade Show Marketer (CTSM), and a 2017 Marketo Revvie Award finalist.