2014 was the year that companies went nuts about collecting every bit of data from all areas of the business. However, there is no point having data just sit around, collecting digital dust if its not doing any work for you. Businesses really must get their data on the treadmill, breaking out a bit of a sweat, to get it leaner, meaner and smarter so that it can ultimately provide the insights needed to steer organisations in the right direction and ensure they remain at the top of their game.

Those that continue to sit on their data like a hen waiting for her eggs to hatch risk extinction in a world where the customer is increasingly demanding quicker response times, more relevant personalisation and a forever smooth, customer experience.

2015 will consequently see better rationalisation of data and a shift to the discernment of how the most relevant data can ultimately create more precise and actionable insights. This will herald in a new era of data scientists who will be very much in demand, not just to study customer behaviour, but also to delve deeper into the murky waters of data forensics to combat rising cyber threats and the creation of potentially lucrative new businesses and add-on services based on data services. Businesses really do avoid the myriad of inexpensive, new real-time data analytics tools now available at their own peril.

Increasing pressure to stay competitive will see fast data analytics and in-memory computing becoming the new best friends for businesses across the board. The concept of in-memory may not be new, but the falling price of RAM, more user success stories and a plethora of options on the market means there has never been a better time to get on board the groovy in-memory gravy train.

In-memory’s capability to quickly and effectively crunch and process the growing mountains of data is a benefit you can’t afford to be without. Superfast operations are already helping businesses to significantly improve customer relationships, generate add-on sales based on demand, and are making sure businesses can make quick-fire amendments to sales campaigns in response to current trends. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are rapidly becoming a global trend and a trend that has a real impact on the death or glory of many an online or bricks & mortar retailer. Just read the newspapers!

In fact, in-memory can potentially impact every area of the business in a positive way: It can enable operations departments to effectively adjust fulfilment and supply chain priorities on the fly, or internal audit departments to access fraud and threat detection as it occurs. And it can even help HR to reliably assess threats to employee retention – very useful to ensure that rare species, the data scientist [if you are lucky to have one], does not fly off to warmer climes (although, reports show that the data scientist is now starting to breed well, and there are high hopes pinned on both current and future crops of fledglings).

We have only seen the tip of the iceberg regarding what can be achieved with fast analytics. 2015 and beyond will show us exciting new ways that lightning-fast data analytics can be utilised, providing unprecedented insight into business data that will change the landscape of IT and business operations forever. So take my advice. If there’s only one New Year’s resolution that you stick to this year – make sure it’s one that puts your data on a fitness regime that gives you the muscles you need to effectively compete in an increasingly demanding, customer-focussed digital world.