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Wanted: Data Processors; Responsibility Required

Loyalty experts take heed: The future of our industry may depend on someone who is incredibly self conscious; someone who is learning, awkwardly, to drive; and someone who, whenever you say anything, rolls his eyes.

The future of the industry, I am saying, is in our children.

Consider these riveting figures, courtesy of a column by Murat Kristal at the Schulich School of Business at York University:

•Business analytics is a $12.2 billion industry, according to Gartner Inc.
•Every dollar that a company invests in business analytics earns $10.66, according to Nucleus Research.
•97 percent of companies with revenue of more than $100 million are pursuing expertise in business analytics, a recent Forrester Research study states.

Sounds great, right? It is great, except for one detail – we might not have enough skilled people to transform this data into meaningful information. McKinsey & Co. forecasts that the data analytics field will come up short of professionals by 2018.

As a loyalty expert, this worries me. But as a parent, I see it as a sign of opportunity. We should encourage our kids to pursue a future in analytics. Think about it: In the coming years, the industry’s capabilities will flourish. More data will be available, and both consumers and organizations are going to have escalating expectations in terms of the benefits they receive from this information.

In short, we are approaching mission critical: Data analysis is where the jobs will be, so who do we want at the wheel?

Today’s college-bound populace will define the future of data analysis, as well as the responsibility required in managing this information. But who better to understand the importance of responsible data use and privacy than today’s graduates, who have matured in an environment where seemingly every move is tracked, if not voluntarily shared through social media?

Younger people are generally more accepting of data sharing, and therefore have a more nuanced appreciation of its implications.

In 10 years, we’ll look back at today’s data collection processes and think we were just bumbling through the process. I hope. But the deciding factor between where we are now and where we want to be exists down the hall, under the pile of clothes on your teenager’s bed.

Those of you with college-bound children – maybe you should have the talk.

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