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‘I predict the end of predictions’

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Companies that mine and analyse data have a huge advantage, says Mike Bainbridge, chief digital technologist at cloud hosting provider Rackspace.

2016 was an incredible year. The unexpected nature of world events has highlighted what a fluid time we live in. Anyone making a prediction for the next 12 months should be worried about the accuracy of their claim. I understand predictions can be a bit of fun and perhaps a chance to share opinions, but as everything we do becomes more data driven, I predict the end of predictions.

Looking at trends, analysing previous performance and modelling future behavior is now in the hands of computers. If you are making a bet on future outcomes based on opinion, there is a good chance you’ll lose. Don’t forget, the house always wins.

So, what advice do I have for businesses in 2017? Well, let’s stick with the theme of future performance and start with data. There should be no doubt that companies that mine and analyse data have a huge advantage.

If you still make decisions by relying on human experience or guesswork, then at the top of the list should be data strategy. If you need validation for this, just take a look at the job market. The fastest growing role is data scientist. So vital has it become that the prestigious Harvard Business Review named it “sexiest job of 2016”.

Secondly, I want to highlight digital transformation. I don’t think I attended a conference in the past year that didn’t have it as a key topic or theme. It’s not a new subject but it’s time to stop talking about it. 2017 is the year to act. As the pace of change in technology only accelerates, bolder and more aggressive action is required.

Digital transformation is a journey, using technology and a more modern working approach to become more efficient and effective. Companies find themselves at risk of being surpassed by the competition when they delay digital projects. Remaining relevant will almost certainly mean taking a more customer centric approach.

This is where many organisations are still struggling. Despite this recurring message, approaching problems in a different way requires a change of mindset. Start by aligning your KPIs with customer-based outcomes, as opposed to business goals.

To deliver on the promise of digital, you need a flexible, scalable IT platform. As the world is changing faster, you need to be able to adapt more quickly. The technology that enables this is the cloud. Again, it’s nothing new, however I think we’re at the stage where organisations are starting to appreciate the benefits it can deliver.

This piece originally appeared on Rackspace’s website.

Image: Cloki/Dreamstime

If you still make decisions by relying on human experience or guesswork, at the top of the list should be data strategy. The fastest growing role is data scientist. So vital has it become that the prestigious Harvard Business Review named it ‘sexiest job of 2016’.– Mike Bainbridge, Rackspace