A look at Trends in Analytics

In his Industry Trend Blog for 2010, Nenshad Bardoliwalla identified the top ten trends in analytics, business intelligence, and performance management. The author sees a vibrant market and a resurgence of innovation.

His first trend makes an interesting observation about strategic analytics driving operational process – as opposed to aligning with or reporting on those same processes. In other words, let intelligence drive process as opposed to looking for intelligence after the fact. The author points out that traditionally, analytic tools looked backwards and reported on stale information. He goes on to portray the future of analytics as forward looking, with a mission to enable a sense and respond capability. The notion of sensing and responding has as much to do with prescribing future outcomes, as it does predicting them. How do we drive the right outcomes – not just predict possible outcomes. If we sense something and respond accordingly, we’ve enhanced our chances of driving the right outcome. For example, if we interact with customers and prospects with intelligence that comes from all possible channels, and we can predict with a high probability what they are likely to buy, we can respond in a way that increases the likelihood of a purchase. Likewise, if we analyze data from a traffic sensor and can predict congestion, we can alter traffic patterns to maintain normal traffic flow – the right outcome.

As the author points out, to enable these scenarios, there must be minimal latency between event and decision point. You need the information when you have the customer or prospect on the phone, or when the traffic is showing possible signs of congestion. He highlights a renewed interest in event-driven architectures and identifies two enabling technologies: Complex Event Processing and Predictive Analytics. The two combine to enable the processing of data in real time and the application of predictive models that help determine future outcomes. The author mentions that Predictive Analytics is heading toward break out market acceptance, and points to IBM and their recently acquired SPSS assets. Having worked with IBM the last two years, I couldn’t agree more. Their Business Analytics and Optimization business of 4,000 consultants focuses on the very scenarios described here.

With one of his trends, Mr. Bardoliwalla describes a phenomenon that I see accelerating over the next two years: the marriage of social technologies and analytics.  In this case, the author describes a scenario where mash-ups allow us to pull together all relevant data for a particular decision, while social technologies allow us to extract wisdom from the crowd. In so doing, this collaborative process enables us to confidently determine the appropriate next action in the context of a given process. This is one example of the impact that strategic analytics and social capabilities will have on corporate processes in the next two years.

The author goes on to discuss a number of other interesting trends in the areas of performance, risk and compliance, Cloud-Based BI Tools, Big Data, Advanced Visualization, Open Source BI, Data Quality, and Excel.

I found his Blog to be a very good look into the future of analytics.

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