RESEARCH & RESOURCES

Realizing Analytics Potential: It's Not Magic

One of the biggest trends today is the democratization of BI and analytics. Today's tools, applications, and platforms are making it easier for nontechnical business users to discover, analyze, and share data insights without handholding by IT or data scientists.

Analytics projects are about deriving maximum value from data assets. Increasingly, organizations need strong analytics to be competitive; data insights are essential for ongoing improvement in strategic decisions, operations, customer relationships, and financial management, Yet, in many cases, data management functions today are focused primarily on meeting service-level agreements (SLAs) tailored to reporting demands -- that is, requirements for delivering static, historical, and carefully cleansed and profiled data to users, mostly in tabular format and at scheduled intervals. Analytics projects have different and often less structured data requirements. Continued expansion in analytics will make it essential for organizations to revisit SLAs and shift their data management focus to support a new set of requirements.

Advanced analytics projects have traditionally required specialized personnel such as statisticians, data scientists, and data analysts to execute data mining, machine learning, natural language processing, social media analytics, and predictive analytics processes. Through experimentation and data exploration, they seek to give their organizations an edge by developing and deploying models and algorithms for complex analysis of all types of data. Organizations in ecommerce, retail, healthcare, and other industries need to perform cutting-edge analytics against big data sources to respond to changing customer preferences, new business models, and regulatory pressures. At the upcoming TDWI Executive Summit (July 21-23, 2014), we will hear exciting presentations on implementation of predictive analytics and text mining.

Self-Service Analytics: Building Momentum

One of the biggest trends today, however, is the democratization of BI and analytics. The latest tools, applications, and platforms are making it easier for nontechnical business executives, managers, and other users to discover, analyze, and share data insights on their own, without handholding by IT or data scientists. Both the TDWI World Conference in Boston and Executive Summit will feature sessions such as Tony Rathburn's "Supporting the Analytics-Driven Organization" (July 25). As part of his instruction, he will offer best practices for fostering a broader analytics culture. This is vital because with analytics, successful projects must consider more than just technology issues; political and cultural issues such as data ownership and the level of collaborative leadership between business and IT can make or break analytics projects.

Growth in analytics will require organizations to broaden their data architecture. As opposed to one-size-fits-all approaches that characterize many enterprise BI applications, analytics tools, and platforms must serve niche requirements and users with uncommon requirements based on their areas of responsibility and interest. Data architecture has to catch up.

Instructors and attendees at the TDWI conferences in Boston will be discussing how to broaden data architecture beyond the warehouse to create "hybrid" data architectures. The hybrid notion is to support, along with the enterprise data warehouse, different types of systems, including Hadoop, NoSQL, and cloud services. Putting in place a unified and cohesive architecture can help organizations avoid the potential chaos of siloed data systems supporting self-service analytics.

The emergence of advanced and self-service analytics is exciting, scary, and game-changing to most organizations. We look forward to seeing and engaging with business and IT professionals at our conferences in Boston to share experiences and best practices for making the development of analytics successful.

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TDWI's upcoming Executive Summit (July 21-23, 2014) and World Conference (July 20-25, 2014) events in Boston help organizations expand beyond the barriers of current business intelligence (BI) and data warehousing capabilities to thrive with analytics. The World Conference theme, "evolving your analytics infrastructure," will be addressed by TDWI instructors who are experts in topics vital to gaining value from data with BI and analytics including data-driven exploration, data visualization, agile methodologies for improving the project speed and quality, Hadoop and MapReduce, predictive analytics, and more. In Monday's keynote, Dr. Timothy Buchman, founding director of the Emory Critical Care Center, will bring home the significance of analytics to the future of healthcare. He will describe the role of real-time analytics for improving the quality of care in intensive care units (ICUs).

The Executive Summit program will feature case studies, expert sessions, and panel discussions focused on the theme of "realizing the potential of BI, analytics, and big data." In developing the Summit program, it was important to us to feature sessions that could help professionals build on their existing experience and investment in BI and data warehousing to take on advanced analytics. Monday's Summit workshop, "How Data Warehousing Teams Can Manage Predictive Analytics," will be led by Nauman Sheikh, founder and CEO of ASRYM, Inc. and author of Implementing Analytics – A Blueprint for Design, Development, and Adoption (Morgan Kauffman, 2013). The session, which includes hands-on attendee participation, will focus on how to address business challenges by tapping into existing data warehouses to build predictive models.

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