In the ancient Indian parable of the elephant, six blind men touch an elephant and report six very different views of the same animal. Compare this scenario to a data warehouse that is getting data from six different sources. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” as a field in a database can be written as “HP and the Sorcerer’s Stone” or as “Harry Potter I” or simply – “Sorcerer’s Stone”. In the data warehouse these are four separate movie titles. For a Harry Potter fan, they are the same movie. Now increase the number of movies to cover the entire Harry Potter series and further include fifty languages. You now have a set of titles which may perplex even a real Harry Potter aficionado.
What does this have to do with data analytics?
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: