This guest blog is written by Ian Liddicoat, Chief Information Officer at ZenithOptimedia Group

The natural world has long shown us that the cycle of invention and reinvention in response to environmental change leads to increasing creativity in the desire for survival. The commercial world in the era of the internet has much to learn.

Global Internet (IP) traffic has increased fivefold over the past five years and will increase a further threefold over the next five years. Overall, IP traffic will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 23 percent between 2014 and 2019.

The use of devices is also changing dramatically. In 2014 only 40 percent of total IP traffic originated from a non PC device. But by 2019 the non-PC share of total IP traffic will have grown to 67 percent.

To put these volumes into perspective the global internet traffic in 2019 will be equivalent to 66 times the volume of 2005. At a consumer level this means the internet traffic per head of population will rise from 15Gb to 37Gb by 2019.

The nature of the content is also changing. By 2019 it would take an individual 5 million years to watch the amount of video that will cross global IP each month. By this stage a million minutes of video will cross the network every second.

Data is now a vital, strategic asset that needs to be managed with the right talent, processes, technology, analytics, security and privacy. These components must in turn be linked directly to overall business strategy and the balanced scorecard. Indeed for many businesses I would argue that data can and should have a place as an asset on the balance sheet.

I would venture that many businesses have remained passive in the face of overwhelming change and have not synchronised their businesses to prosper or even cope in a commercial world overrun with data. For some organisations the tide of change was too great; leaner, more agile businesses built on data, technology and insight overtook them. Many traditional businesses faced with this form of competition have often viewed the new “upstarts” as disruptive or worse that they were powerless to respond. The reality is that these more agile businesses recognised the customer need and therefore the commercial opportunity to close the gap between data-driven insight and customer experience.

These agile enterprises have placed data and data strategy at the heart of their businesses and no longer question the logic of this or the investment required. They have organised transactional data at customer level within a Single Customer View and ensured that all customer interactions, across all channels are as personalised as the data and privacy will permit. They have made a commitment to bringing in the right talent.

The new breed of Data Scientist is now comfortable with cloud based technology, high speed analytical tools and also understands the data sources and their role in business strategy. In this respect technology, data and analytics are merging as data processing creativity and performance keeps pace with data volumes. It is now common place to drive considerable value from both structured and unstructured data in massive volumes and bring the resulting insight back to the customer level. This is increasingly done using machine learning techniques as the number of segments and the resulting permutations of segment, creative, offer etc is too complex for humans to comprehend.

This does not mean that the role of a brand or a creative idea is diminished – actually the reverse. The next frontier for marketing for both clients and suppliers is managing the link between superior creative thinking, machine learned insights and evolving customer experience.

As data volumes and processing speeds continue to advance exponentially this cycle of invention and re-invention in most sectors will become shorter and shorter until data driven, machine learned customer experience becomes the norm.

As a technologist and analyst I welcome and embrace this degree of change and the level of automation it inevitably brings. Any business that adopts a clear and agile data strategy, which cannot be separated from technology and analytics and places this at the heart of their enterprise and in the boardroom will prosper. For those that do not or do so at too slow a pace will be overtaken and one can argue that this represents the survival of the fittest.