Businesses develop a hunger for big data analytics
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Businesses develop a hunger for big data analytics

Kenny MacIver — March 2014

New research from Oracle and Gartner reveals growing ambition to exploit big data and cloud–based business intelligence.

Formulating a big data strategy, with advanced analytics at its central, will be a top-of-the-agenda item for most CIOs throughout 2014.

According to new research into information management priorities by IT industry giant Oracle, 6 out of 10 companies have more data than they can use effectively, yet most executives (93%) say their organization is losing revenue as a result of not getting the information they need to make important decisions. And that is pushing big data center-stage.

The Oracle survey of customers and prospects, identifies their top 10 big data and analytics trends for 2014:

1  BI goes mobile  Almost all lines of businesses will seek to expand the delivery of business intelligence (BI) to mobile devices, especially in sales, where 42% of the respondents say they have plans for mobile BI initiatives during 2014 — a nearly two-fold increase from last year. Finance and marketing are not far behind (39% and 37%, respectively), followed by operations (34%).

Analytics takes to the cloud  While integration and security concerns have kept many companies from putting key data in the cloud, the tide is now turning. More than half of those surveyed said they were considering moving some BI functions to the cloud this year, with marketing (63%) and sales (62%) the main focus areas. “The lure is simple,” says Oracle. “Cloud-based BI makes it easier to deliver basic reports and dashboards to business users, with subscription-based reporting services that simplify development and provisioning of BI functionality.”

Hadoop in the mainstream  Big data technologies such as Hadoop clusters will increasingly augment company’s existing data warehouse assets. According to the survey, the most popular use of big data in 2014 will be to create an online archive or ‘data reservoir’ that can be linked with an enterprise database.

4  Big data skills shortage  Organizations are looking to double the number of people with advanced BI skills, such as predictive analytics and Hadoop, in the coming year.

5  Discovering patterns in data  Organizations plan to use data discovery tools to refine sales and marketing more effectively and make their operations more efficient, with 38% saying they want to find new opportunities to better equip their marketing and sales forces and 36% planning to invest in data discovery tools to improve operations.

6  High demand for predictive analytics  The survey identified predictive analytics as the most popular area of interest among organizations planning to add to their big data analytics capabilities in 2014. “With more information about your customers, your internal operations and your competitors’ activities, you can adapt your business to run more efficiently and competitively as market conditions change,” say the authors. “The more insight you have into past and current events, the better you can predict future activity.

7  Embedding future insight  Organizations want BI to be driving their business. Fifty-seven percent of the survey group plans to embed predictive analytics into business processes; 47% want to put the technology directly into their BI reporting apps; and 40% plan to expand their in-database mining capabilities to improve what-if planning and forecasting.

8  Decision optimization will enhance human “gut-feeling”  Decision optimization will increasingly leverage machine-learning algorithms, coupled with human expertise and company policies, to make better predictions and recommendations. Popular plans among the survey group for decision optimization include: to create adaptive processes that can be continually optimized during live customer interactions; to automate predictive analytics with business rules; and to prescribe personalized, real-time recommendations across multiple channels.

9 Integrate and package  Although integrating with existing ERP and CRM systems is still a central concern — with 44% of respondents citing that as their highest priority for analytics applications — 39% say they also want flexible, function-specific analytic applications. Finance is the most influential line of business for investing in analytic applications (29%), followed by operations (22%), sales and marketing (22%) and human resources (9%).

10  Tools will become more intuitive  The survey shows high demand for more intuitive and widely applicable decision-support tools. “Easier-to-use analytical tools will become available for business users, and existing applications and processes will embed more robust analytics capabilities with little to no training required,” says Oracle.Analytics made easy

Several of those themes are echoed in the latest BI market analysis by Gartner. Its Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms suggests companies are increasingly embedding traditional reporting, dashboards, interactive analysis, and prescriptive analytics into business processes or applications.

It observes that companies are increasingly building analytics applications that leverage new data types and new types of analysis, such as location intelligence and analytics on multi-structured data stored in NoSQL data repositories.

There is also evidence that Cloud BI is becoming much more acceptable as a deployment option, with 45% of respondents saying they would put their mission-critical BI in the cloud. That compares with approximately 30% for each of the last four years.

2014 will be a critical year in which the task of making “hard types of analysis easy” for an expanded set of users, along with ensuring governance, scale and performance for larger amounts of diverse data, will continue to dominate BI market requirements. “The intent is to expand the use of analytics to a broad range of consumers and non-traditional BI users, increasingly on mobile devices,” says the analyst group, which says that organizations spent $14.1 billion on BI platforms in 2013.

First published March 2014
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