“Running a company is an endless quest to find out things you don’t know“
– Jeff Immelt, CEO GE
What will 2012 bring? Recently, I attended the CIO Executive Leadership Summit in Greenwich, Connecticut. I was particularly intrigued by the presentation by the new CIO of IBM, Jeanette Horan where she presented the projects she was tackling and how IBM is thinking about business analytics.
IBM is making a bet that “true leaders” will develop the capabilities required for making good and timely decisions in unpredictable and stressful environments.
IBM is adapting to this new data analytics reality by a rapid-fire acquisition strategy: Cognos, Netezza, SPSS, ILog, CoreMetrics, Algorithmics, OpenPages, Clarity Systems, Emptoris, DemandTec (for retail). IBM also has other information management assets like Watson, DB2 etc. They are building a formidable capability around the value chain: “Raw Data -> Aggregate Data -> Intelligence ->Insight -> Decisions” . They see this as a $20Bln opportunity. Read more
Everyone is beginning to look beyond the status quo in BI, analytics, Big Data, Cloud Computing etc to fundamentally change how they discover fresh insights, how they can make smarter decisions, profit from customer intelligence and social media, and optimize performance management.
The headache for corporations is not the technology aspects but the leadership side. Who is going to lead this effort, corral the vendors and formalize and execute a more structured program.
Who is going to lead the effort to create the right toolset, dataset, skillset and mindset necessary for success?
As BI and Analytics moves from “experiment and test” lab projects to commercial deployments, companies are going to need more leadership and program management capabilities. They need leadership that can provide strategic, expert guidance for using powerful new technologies to find patterns and correlations in data transactions, event streams, and social media.
Some firms are making moves. In insurance, AIG – Chartis Inc. unit appointed Murli Buluswar to the new post of chief science officer. This aims to enhance Chartis’ focus on analytics… he “will be responsible for establishing a world-class R&D function to help improve Chartis’ global commercial and consumer business strategies and to deliver more value for customers.” This focus on analytics involves “asking the right questions and making science-driven decisions about strategies—whether it’s related to underwriting decisions, product innovation, pricing, distribution, marketing, claims or customer experience—with the end result of improving the scope of what Chartis delivers for customers”.
As a result of where we are in the maturity cycle and to support the business units better, we are seeing a new emerging role “CIO – BI” that is dotted lined to the global CIO or a shared services leader. Let’s look at a representative job posting from GE Capital, which always seems to be a step ahead of most companies. Read more
BI is key to enabling companies to turn oceans of data into predictive models and actionable decisions. However, a survey of 353 executives in large companies, reported that their chief BI concern was the performance of various BI solutions.
Development, support and enhancement teams are typically deployed to address BI performance challenges with varied success. But most companies don’t have a dedicated focus on performance.
A BI Center of Excellence (BI CoE) measured by performance KPIs and service metrics is one solution to this problem. This is not an area that traditionally draws high-level attention or is featured in a dedicated CoE initiative, yet in the right circumstances it offers unique value. Read more
“More firms will adopt Amazon EC2 or EMR or Google App Engine platforms for data analytics. Put in a credit card, by an hour or months worth of compute and storage data. Charge for what you use. No sign up period or fee. Ability to fire up complex analytic systems. Can be a small or large player” Ravi Kalakota’s forecast
Big data Analytics = Technologies and techniques for working productively with data, at any scale.
Analytics-as-a-Service is cloud based… Elastic and highly scalable, No upfront capital expense. Only pay for what you use, Available on-demand
The combination of the two is the emerging new trend. Why? Many organizations are starting to think about “analytics-as-a-service” as they struggle to cope with the problem of analyzing massive amounts of data to find patterns, extract signals from background noise and make predictions. In our discussions with CIOs and others, we are increasingly talking about leveraging the private or public cloud computing to build an analytics-as-a-service model.
Analytics-as-a-Service is an umbrella term I am using to encapsulate “Data-as-a-Service” and “Hadoop-as-a-Service” strategies. It is more sexy 🙂
The strategic goal is to harness data to drive insights and better decisions faster than competition as a core competency. Executing this goal requires developing state-of-the-art capabilities around three facets: algorithms, platform building blocks, and infrastructure.
Analytics is moving out of the IT function and into business — marketing, research and development, into strategy. As result of this shift, the focus is greater on speed-to-insight than on common or low-cost platforms. In most IT organizations it takes anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months to procure and configure servers. Then another several months to load, configure and test software. Not very fast for a business user who needs to churn data and test hypothesis. Hence cloud-as-a-analytics alternative is gaining traction with business users.
Who doesn’t want to achieve faster “time-to-information” and shorter “time-to-decision” for executives and managers with mobile BI? Who doesn’t want to disseminate insights or KPIs to front-line employees, such as field sales representatives, line of business managers, and field service employees?
The question is not whether Mobile BI is a good idea but how to execute this program in a low-cost way? How to design and deploy eye-popping “wow” apps? How to support, maintain and enhance these apps which are constantly changing? What technology and infrastructure to put in for a national or global deployment? Who is going to fund all this plumbing – corporate, LoB or IT?
Business Analytics solutions for “always-on” 3/4G enabled mobile devices – iPads, iPhones, tablets, smart phones – are becoming prevalent as the form factor becomes appropriate for BI. We are increasingly seeing firms build state-of-the-art dashboard solutions for iPads. The “post-desktop” apps provide senior management with intuitive interactive access to the company’s most important business KPIs and dealing with data overload.
Tablets, 4G Wireless and next gen displays (+gesture based, verbal interfaces) have enabled new productivity improvements and better ways to consume information, perform ad-hoc querying and scenario planning. Dashboard, heatmaps and scorecards on the iPad, iPhones and Androids are intuitive, attractive, powerful, available at any time and any place: a perfect mix for top managers, sales teams and even customers.
BI (and Information Management) is a natural fit for mobile devices. Managers, blue and white workers spend a majority of their time away from their desks. Most are traveling, walking about or driving from site to site. And it’s these mobile workers who need the most up-to-date information. They need mobile BI to retrieve data to make on-the-spot decisions, monitor operational processes and review KPI, and work-in-process dashboards.
The “Raw Data -> Aggregated Data -> Intelligence -> Insights -> Decisions” is a differentiating causal chain in business today. To service this “data->decision” chain a very large industry is emerging.
The Business Intelligence, Performance Management and Data Analytics is a large confusing software category with multiple sub-categories — mega-vendors (full stack, niche vendors, data discovery, visualization, data appliances, Open Source, Cloud – SaaS, Data Integration, Data Quality, Mobile BI, Services and Custom Analytics).
But the interest in BI and analytics is surging. Arnab Gupta, CEO of Opera states why analytics are taking center stage, “We live in a world where computers, not people, are in the driver’s seat. In banking, virtually 100% of the credit decisions are made by machines. In marketing, advanced algorithms determine messages, sales channels, and products for each consumer. Online, more and more volume is spurred by sophisticated recommender engines. At Amazon.com, 40% of business comes from its “other people like you bought…” program.” (Businessweek, September 29, 2009).
Here is a list of vendors who participate in this marketspace: