Achieving Success with Modern Analytics (Part 2 of 2)
Teresa Letlow, SVP Global Cloud Alliances at StreamSets, and Jason Yeung, VP NA Center of Excellence, BTP at SAP, share their thoughts and insights about achieving success with modern analytics.
- By Upside Staff
- August 25, 2023
In a recent “Speaking of Data ” podcast, Teresa Letlow of StreamSets and Jason Yeung of SAP shared their thoughts about achieving success with modern analytics. Letlow is senior vice president of global cloud alliances with StreamSets and Yeung is vice president of the North American Center of Excellence, Business Technology Platform at SAP. The two speakers followed TDWI’s Fern Halper’s remarks about her recent TDWI Best Practices Report: Achieving Success with Modern Analytics. [Editor’s note: Speaker quotations have been edited for length and clarity.]
Letlow and Yeung began by discussing the changes they’ve seen over the courses of their careers.
“In the early days,” Letlow began, “there was just a database and reporting tools and users would always be looking at historical data. Now people are starting to also look at the future with predictive analytics and data science.”
“One of the biggest advances I’ve seen,” Yeung explained, “is in the area of augmented analytics.” Self-service analytics has been a long-standing goal, he said, and the new range of augmented analytics tools are making progress toward fulfilling that goal by using powerful algorithms to suggest aspects of data that users might be interested in.
Another major step forward he noted was in the area of generative AI. “People are now able to have very natural conversations with their data and turn up interesting patterns or features,” he said.
Letlow added that the way organizations are now looking at data and analytics holistically as an ecosystem is an interesting innovation. “It’s not just about one company looking at its own analytics,” she said. “People are asking how to take the next leap with process integration and connect vendors and suppliers.”
Both agreed much of what modern analytics is about hasn’t changed much over the years.
“Before, analytics was about things such as showing ROI and building these total cost of ownership models,” Letlow said. “Today, we’re still asking ourselves the same questions. Are we looking at the right data? Are we asking the right questions? It’s almost like déjà vu, but with a new technology platform.”
“One thing that has changed, especially recently,” Yeung said, “is the need for embedded analytics. At SAP, we make enterprise applications such as for finance and supply chain manufacturing. Our customers are looking for applications where they can get all their information in one place without having to jump to other applications.”
Letlow and Yeung also agreed when it came to discussing the challenges modern practitioners face.
“I don’t think technology is the challenge,” Letlow said. “It’s about the people and the processes.” People have their preferred applications and ways of doing things and will fight to the bitter end to keep them, she said. The real challenge is getting people to adopt new processes and to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the new analytics and the modern tech stack.
“The big issue I find is users trusting the results the analytics are giving them,” Yeung added. “People have a wealth of knowledge accumulated over years of doing their jobs and are reluctant to override that in favor of what an algorithm is telling them.” This bias shows itself more broadly in issues of data literacy, he said.
“It’s a top-down decision for an organization to become data-driven,” Letlow explained. “It’s not going to happen in pockets of an organization.”
They offered several tips for success.
“Number one is ‘don’t go it alone,’” Letlow noted. “You won’t find one tool or person that’s going to lead to success. If you have a key advisor or systems integrator, feel free to lean on them.” In the same way, she suggested that organizations to turn to their cloud partners and see what kind of support is available there.
Yeung promoted the idea of building a center of excellence or shared services team such as the one he works on.
“I’m also seeing more decentralized matrix teams where IT people are working with different business owners such as finance, HR, and sales,” he said. Having all these people working together on one team improves the level of understanding among all the stakeholders.
[Editor’s notes: For more information on achieving success with modern analytics and to download a copy of the TDWI Best Practices Report, visit https://tdwi.org/research/2023/06/adv-all-best-practices-report-achieving-success-with-modern-analytics.aspx. You can listen to the first part of this podcast, featuring Fern Halper, here.]