2020 was a reminder to always expect the unexpected, but it actually taught us a lot about what we might expect to see in 2021 as businesses and markets adapt to a new reality. To highlight those learnings and look forward into the new year, Actable’s Co-Founders brainstormed on 21 key themes and trends to watch out for in 2021 – with of course plenty of expectation for unexpected things to present themselves as well!

Matt Greitzer

  •  New Era: Ready or not, COVID has catapulted enterprises towards a consumer data strategy as businesses race to better understand and communicate with their customers.
  • Alignment: Organizational design becomes a focus, as enterprises struggle to align channel and application driven teams to consumer-centric imperatives.
  • Survival of the Fittest: The pendulum swings towards best-of-breed: first-mover advantage is paying off for companies that invest in industry leading solutions and practices with customer data.
  • Internal Reworks: CDPs focus on their core strengths and shed ancillary offerings – the competition to see who ‘wins’ the category is heating up.
  • A Questions We May All Have: Will Google get in the game?
  • Adapting New Roles: MarTech Meets AdTech as CDPs are tasked to fill thee DMP gap – but it’s not clear they can.
  • Falling Behind: The DMP gap cannot be filled. Some forms of ad targeting will atrophy.

Craig Schinn

  • Cross Functional Teams:  Forward-thinking marketing organizations will continue to deploy cross-functional teams involving tech, BI, marketing and creative to address customer-centric goals.
  • Missed Connections: Analytics teams are still disconnected; if customer-centric marketing is cross-functional, analytics needs to get in the mix.
  • Unused Power: Companies are leaving dollars on the table with underutilized assets locked up in digital data layers, which are a complicated concept to adapt but pay dividends in user experience, intelligence and revenue optimization.
  • Hiding in the Shadows: Adobe & Salesforce haven’t been as visible as we thought.
  • Kicking out the Old: Creative is still a bottleneck for 1:1 personalization. And it shouldn’t be.
  • Missed the Mark: We thought 2020 would bring some focus to CDP – instead, what happens next feels tenuous as category winners are yet to be revealed.
  • Beyond Cookies: Marketers are aware of 3rd party cookie death but struggle to articulate a 1st party strategy to take its place. Partnerships and enrichments are critical to closing this gap.

Michael Baumgaertner

  • The New “IT” Item: Deep and unaddressed need for customer-level reporting and intelligence is pushing IT teams to adapt how they approach platforming and support.
  • The Outsiders: Actionability remains elusive outside of natively integrated channels, but savvy marketers are focusing on controlling this upstream in their data systems.
  • The Power Brokers: Marketing and IT remain often unaligned over ownership of customer data solutions. Goal alignment and education are key unlocks to harmonious working between groups.
  • Intelligence On Demand: Enrichment on demand is a real thing. Several big partnerships emerged between data companies and infrastructure companies in 2020, and demand is growing fast.
  • Walled gardens dig in:  Marketers continue to struggle to wrest control of customer intelligence from walled gardens even as investment continues to grow.
  • Data science is dollars science:  Data science needs a rethink- keep it revenue oriented – rather than a BI activity, look to ways that data science and predictive methods can be immediate.
  • Back to Basics: There is still a lot of friction with the basics of activating customer data – orchestrating out of legacy systems and standing up good site analytics remain crucial.