LONDON: Invisible analytics, virtual reality and online video are among the top tech trends predicted for the year ahead by insights business GfK.

Every one of the ten identified in Tech Trends 2016 is connected with or rooted in data, as consumers leave a trail of their interactions with businesses, from shopping online for groceries to the time of day they do their internet banking.

Large data sets are being utilised in more sophisticated ways, the report noted, with complex analysis becoming essential to understanding consumers and to developing and optimising products and services for them.

"This is invisible analytics," it said; the benefits include gaining a competitive advantage, improving return on marketing investment and supporting new product development.

And since the volume of data is only going to increase, so it becomes vital to focus attention on "the most relevant, actionable source material". Artificial intelligence and machine learning will have a role to play here.

As always with anything involving data, however, marketers need to tread carefully to avoid appearing to be intrusive, especially in regards to new technologies.

"Invisible analytics could, for example, be the key ingredient in the effective use of augmented and virtual reality in retail environments", the report suggests. But if businesses overstep what consumers consider acceptable behaviour then legislation could follow to protect them.

For 2016, most activity around virtual reality is likely to be focused on dedicated gamers, who can be expected to pay for the gloves and head-mounted displays (HMDs) that offer a fully immersive experience.

But their experience will generate greater awareness of the technology and push it into other industries such as retail, travel, business and education, GfK said.

Already ASOS, the online fashion retailer, is working with 3D and VR retail specialist Trillenium to bring its products to HMDs.

Online video, meanwhile, continues to grow and to disrupt traditional TV distribution models.

And as more viewing migrates from the TV set to mobile devices, so audiences are increasingly prepared to engage with video advertising there as well.

Video is now a "fundamental" part of brand communications, said GfK, and with so many players involved – from content producers and publishers to brands – there will be a need for partnership and collaboration, particularly as regards using data to target content creation, distribution and interaction.

Data sourced from GfK; additional content by Warc staff