Dresner Advisory Services BI Market Studies named Zoomdata as No.1 for Big Data Analytics and earlier made Logi Analytics No.1 for Embedded Analytics- congratulations to both. It is amazing to see how many new vendors enter the scene every month and how those like Zoomdata grow successfully. It is a vibrant market offering a wide range of options to analysts, business and operational leaders, CIOs & CDOs and central IT. Some may say a bewildering range given

  •  the established agile optiond like Tableau, Qlik, Logi Analytics, Information Builders, Tibco, Sisense
  •  the mega vendors like Microsoft, Oracle, SAP Business Objects, SAS, MicroStrategy & IBM Cognos. 
  • The focussed vendors like Location Intelligence specialists CARTO, MapINfo and ESRI. 

No one of them is perfect and buyers remorse usually surfaces even if in a minor way. Depending on your use case some will be totally unsuitable.  

Before choosing any vendor, or technology, it is vital to know why you are doing so.

Sounds obvious I know but I am sure that many buyers go ahead on an emotional wave of excitement without really questioning what changes they wish to make to their

  • own organisations
  • customers
  • supply chain
  • stakeholders
  • regulatory authorities

The evidence of disappointing results in too many BI & Analytics investments points to a lack of planning and rigorous execution. In fact these analytics projects often start at the wrong point and are doomed to fail.

Analytics and BI are there to help leaders manage. Not just the C-Suite & Directors, but project managers, call centre managers and team leaders, nursing managers clinical leads, field engineers and asset managers. A full continuum of staff, contractors  and supply chain. 

 And to manage they have to live the managerial cycle:

  1. Plan
  2. Organise
  3. Direct
  4. Measure and Control
  5. Revise the plan

You can only plan effectively if you clearly enunciate goals, goals that shared and agreed internally and externally.

Too often analytics and BI tools are adopted before these goals are clearly defined and without that being accomplished how can you decide what to measure (analyze) to effectively have control?

Once you have clear goals and the means to measure the change that the new analytics and BI will deliver you can start to chose the right analytics choice but before diving in consider another important aspect.

  • What are the main challenges you have to face to ensure a successful outcome? Almost certainly data will feature high in the list. 
  • What data will be required to make these decisions, execute them effectively and measure actual versus planned outcomes. Maybe 50% of the effort ( and budget) will be applied there- possibly more.

The partner you choose maybe the one that can ensure the data is complete, current, maintainable and accessible. 

You may have sorted that 100% in which case the analytics/BI  tools and platforms maybe the sole focus though this should be rare.

Analytics is rarely successful unless visualised in the context of the workflow and tasks each user is engaged in i.e. embedded in these work flows and or enterprise applications. In that case you may look more to the ISVs, SaaS Providers that provide the technology platforms on which your business or public service is built.  

You maybe enticed by the benefits promised by machine learning, AI and bringing power to the elbow of business & operational leaders utilising algorithms to automate predictable and repetitive aspects of business & public sector life. Particularly as you read how the IoT, machine sensors and wearables will connect physical assets, people with technology platforms described above. Just too much data and content to cope with without AI etc!

But again, there is no panacea; no short cut that makes investment in analytics, BI, IoT and platforms any less a project demanding the highest standards of management and objective review. Just as rigorous as purchasing/renting capital equipment.

You have plenty of technology choice but no alternative to the approach above- unless you want to be one of the group described below:-

"Broken Links: Why analytics investments have yet to pay off, from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), found that although 70% of business executives rated analytics as “very” or “extremely important”, just 2% are ready to say they have achieved “broad positive results”

Sometimes it seems that executives today believe they are in a new managerial paradigm that means they can miss out these important planning steps. They are deceived by the platitudes of marketing content promising success from:-

  • Big data
  • Data lakes
  • Streaming Data
  • Data Discovery and Visualisation
  • Cognitive computing
  • Artificial ( that should be a warning- would you drink artificial wine!) Intelligence

Well they are not. Just read my article "1855 and already a successful Big Data Story" .

There you will find a man, yes one individual, who made sea travel safer, global commerce more profitable and applied data management and analytics in a practical and long-lasting cycle. A lesson for everyone.