The Death of Business Intelligence

Big Data: The evolution

Posted in Business Intelligence by neilwilson1984 on January 10, 2014

Big Data is an ever-evolving and changing marketplace, but just how will it evolve in the future, and how will it meet the needs and demands of the ever growing volume of data that the market and its related software is asked to cope with?

Speed

With the fact that there is now more and more data created all the time, and the sheer volume rising at an exponential pace, there has been a need for it to be processed and analysed quicker and quicker.

According to one expert, massive amounts of data must be analysed on the spot. This has meant that companies across the globe have invested somewhere in the region of $14 million into the in-memory processing market.

This means that terabytes of data can be processed and analysed within just a few seconds. One company, according to a popular technology blog, recently realised the importance of speed when it comes to the analysing of data when its sensor data ballooned to a full 5 terabytes per day.

The expert added that it is now the case that almost every single Big Data vendor is having to create and release products that are specifically linked to making sure data is analysed as fast is as possible.

Data quality

Another factor that will become more and more important across the next year and beyond is the quality of the data that is being processed. Because of the sheer volume of what is being analysed and acted upon, it is vital that the data is of quality that means it will produce results and not just take up valuable time and space.

Because of the fact that data analysis is now so fast it is far outside the realm of the need for human minds, it is now the case that many decisions are made without a person being involved at all, with data cleansed, analysed and acted upon on. This has caused problems though, where a stream of bad quality data can lead to viruses, data loss, financial losses and even fines.

What some companies have started to do, and what will become more of a trend moving forward, is to deploy a system that combats poor data quality by making sure that any issues created are flagged up instantly rather than having to wait for problems to occur. It allows bad quality data to be wiped out very early in the process.

Specialist apps

In the age of everyone wanting to use Big Data, it has become more and more common for people not au fait with Big Data to want to be a part of the process. But this has led to issues with usability and compatibility.

It is a problem that will be combated moving forward, with apps specific to certain industries becoming ever-more prevalent to help companies harness Big Data even at the most basic levels.

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Predictive analysis spending soars on demand for business intelligence

Posted in Analytics, Business Intelligence, IT, Microsoft, SAP by neilwilson1984 on December 12, 2013

A desire for better business intelligence is driving demand for predictive analysis software, according to a new set of figures. According to the study by Transparency Market Research, the market for predictive analytics software will be worth over $6.5 billion by 2019.

The growth is being driven by increased demand for customer intelligence, as well as fraud and security intelligence software. In addition, cloud hosted predictive analytics software solutions are seen as an emerging market that will drive growth in the near future.

Banking and finance services, insurance, government, pharmaceuticals, telecom and IT, and retail, are seen as key demand drivers during the forecast period, which will see the market more than triple in value from a base of just over $2 billion.

But the biggest growth will be in retail and manufacturing, largely due to fast growing consumer driven digital data and the subsequent need to extract strategically critical information from this data.

The study authors say a rise in incidences of frauds, payment defaults, over or under stock inventory levels, and regulations regarding governance, risk, and compliance, have pushed companies to adopt predictive analytical models.

“Demand for industry specific software solutions has caused customer intelligence, fraud and security intelligence, and campaign management to emerge as leading segments,” they say. These segments together accounted for approximately 50 per cent of market revenue in 2012.

The US and Canada will continue to lead the way as business intelligence demands drive uptake of solutions capable of analyzing big data.

“North America, which has been at the forefront of generating big data in large quantities, is expected to remain the largest market for predictiveanalytics software solutions,” the authors say.

“This is due to demand for advanced business intelligence being directly affected by need to analyze big data. Growth of predictive analytics aspect of business intelligence has seen a revival ever since big data gained popularity and has been growing exponentially.”

All this is good for companies, with competition increasing as big data vendors – SAP, SAS, Oracle, IBM, Microsoft – now entering the market for predictive analytics.

Business intelligence: it starts with a question

Posted in Business, Business Intelligence, IT by neilwilson1984 on December 6, 2013

Business intelligence, big data, analytics – it’s so easy to think of these things are primarily about software and budgets. Spend more on expensive software applications and you’ll do better, so many people believe.

But that’s really looking at the issue the wrong way round. Business intelligence, so it is argued, begins not with pricey software but with something a lot more straightforward; a question about what you want to do with your business.

This is the view of Rusty Frioux, who wants firms to take a step back and ask themselves what it is they want to achieve. The founder and managing principal at DataClear explains: “A lot of people think that data analytics is all about expensive software. And while some enterprise reporting software packages can be very helpful for some organizations, they’re not always necessary and are often the wrong first choice for your investment dollars.

“Before you start thinking about tools, it’s important to take a step back and understand what questions you want answered and what data you’re already collecting. Analytics doesn’t start with data – or with software. It starts with a question you have about your business.”

To this end, the business intelligence consulting firm has released a guide to help. The publication pinpoints specific data points and reports companies can use to solve common problems.

The guide is designed as a “brainstorming tool” for companies who think that understanding the data they already collect might lead to better decision-making. It includes ideas and tactics for finance and accounting, operations, human resources, and sales and marketing.

According to Matillion, one of the main issues that can lead to problems with BI strategies is organizations put their focus on the wrong elements and in the wrong order. by focusing first on the fundamentals – the question you want answered, companies can get off on the right foot. The expensive software and applications can come later.

IBM takes predictive analysis to IT

Posted in Analytics, Business Intelligence, IT by neilwilson1984 on December 3, 2013

IBM is bringing predictive analysis to IT operations to help system administrators better find and solve potential problems.

The firm says its new software will enable clients to apply foundational elements of cognitive intelligence throughout their IT infrastructure. The aim is to help workers gain insights from big data, rather than being focused on how to cope with its sheer volume. Such insights, says IBM, can help predict and prevent IT downtime, improve productivity and generate cost savings.

Increasingly organisations are dealing with complex IT systems of servers, networks and applications. Combined with mobile and cloud, these systems can generate more than 1.3 terabytes of data per day, including log files, software error alerts, IT service tickets and network configuration updates.

This can lead to up to one million system alerts per day, some of which are critical to performance and others that are irrelevant. Sifting through all of these and making sense of it all is where the new software comes in.

IBM SmartCloud Analytics – Predictive Insights enables employees to wade through terabytes of IT operations data in real time, spotting only the trends that are critical to IT network performance. The software’s “cognitive computing capabilities” can learn, reason and sense an organization’s IT systems.

The software adapts as business and performance conditions change, updating settings and eliminating costly errors caused by poor system configuration. This new technology will run on the SoftLayer infrastructure, which is the foundation of IBM’s cloud portfolio.

“As the value of data continues to grow, the differentiator for clients will be around predicting what could happen to help transform their business with speed and conviction,” said Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive, software and systems at IBM. “IBM’s latest set of solutions allow clients to help predict customer behavior and outcomes with speed and ease, all delivered from the cloud.”

Consolidated Communications is one company working with IBM’s new predictive software. It expects to save $300,000 annually in reactive costs alone by analyzing IT operations data.

BIME secures $4m for business intelligence in cloud

Posted in Business, Business Intelligence, IT by neilwilson1984 on December 2, 2013

French business intelligence company BIME has secured $4 million in new funding.

The Montpellier firm plans to use the money to make continued enhancements to its cloud BI offering that it says turns the entire web into a “seamlessly connected data warehouse” that enables companies to query data sources across the entire web in real-time.

After opening its US headquarters in Kansas City, the firm will also use the money to grow sales in the key North American market.

BIME is part of a fast-growing clutch of next-generation BI providers. Just like Birst or Platfora, these solutions are often easier to install and use, and may even be cheaper than similar products from the established vendors.

“We owe our rapid growth to the success of our unique technology. The rise of Big Data is a reality, and businesses of any size are using cloud-based tools like BIME to become truly data-driven,” said Rachel Delacour, CEO and cofounder. “We help businesses turn the entire web into a seamlessly connected data warehouse. BIME now has the capital and talent to keep innovating and expand globally, particularly in the dynamic US market.”

The $4 million in funding was led by Alven Capital Partners. Jeremy Uzan, investment director with the firm, noted that business analytics is one of the fastest-growing segments of modern IT.

“Every enterprise that is serious about harnessing the value of big data needs to tap into dozens of live data sources and be able to ask questions in the moment. BIME empowers them to do so, with a lightweight yet infinitely scalable service,” he explained.

The current version of BIME v5 consists of an HTML5 framework, an in-memory calculation engine built for speed and a powerful feature set. The firm was the first vendor to offer a BI front-end for Google BigQuery and it has been recognized by Forrester, Design for Experience, and Dresner Advisory Group for its capabilities.

How can BI help your operation grow?

Posted in Business, Business Intelligence by neilwilson1984 on November 11, 2013

Business Intelligence (BI) software is becoming increasingly popular across some of the largest businesses in the world. It allows managers and leaders the chance to make more informed decisions than ever before, as well as helping them reach an increasingly larger audience.

However, while there is a greater level of uptake in BI use across the business world, for many people who are thinking about starting a business, the term will still be alien, and it is up to firms providing the software to let them know how BI can benefit them.

According to Nathan Robertson, writing for Business2Community, there are three main benefits that can be seen for companies from the use of BI.

The main goal

The business sector, and any number of the different markets therein, can be difficult to negotiate. The rapidly rising levels of data in recent years have also made it harder to analyse information available and adapt businesses accordingly.

However, BI software makes it easier to gather, analyse and dissect much much larger amounts of data and make decisions based on this.

It means that decision makers in any company are able to have a far easier time of seeing current market trends and customer bases, as well as the way they react, improving their own operation to meet the demands of consumers.

The range of information available can also be changeable, with some firms choosing to see a wide cross section of the data available, and others choosing to focus on key areas and the information pertaining to this to make more targeted decisions.

Accessibility

It used to be the case that BI was a big project with a focus on the largest companies in the world, but this is no longer the case as the market has diversified and adapted.

It is now the case that smaller firms can also benefit, with bespoke BI packages allowing them to find something that is less all-encompassing, and fits not only their needs better, but also their budget.

They can now find software that is function specific, broader intelligence solution suites that have been pre-programmed, solutions that are automatically integrated, software-as-a-service solutions as standard, whereas these all might have been out of reach to them in the past.

The bottom line

At the end of the day, when it comes to any business, the bottom line and the profits are the most important factors to consider.

According to Business2Community, this is an issue that is already being addressed with many firms, with some starting to report an increase in the obvious signs of success that exist for their own operation through the use of BI software. For many, it allows them to create contingency plans and safely manage their business goals.

The expert also said that while many smaller companies may not immediately see the benefits of BI over the likes of ad-hoc analysis and the use of the more traditional spreadsheets, the use of it now is a very useful tactic so they are aware of it when it does start to have positive effects when they start to grow.

IT leaders believe in the future of big data, but barriers remain

Posted in Business, Business Intelligence by neilwilson1984 on October 24, 2013

UK firms are increasingly coming to see the benefits of big data as a part of their operation, with 75 per cent now saying it will have a role to play in improving their operation.

Results from a survey carried out by EMC showed that three-quarters of decision makers feel positive about the use of big data – which allows them to analyse large amounts of information to make better informed business decisions.

However, despite the positive sentiment from those in the IT sector, there is still a degree of reluctance in the UK to take on the technology.

Some 32 per cent of businesses surveyed said they have no current plans to implement its use, with 48 per cent stating the main barrier to their uptake is the fact there is a lack of solid anecdotal evidence showing the impact it can have.

This is in spite of the fact that many still have a clear idea of what they either expect or believe the technology can have to offer them.

Of those surveyed, 37 per cent said they believed it could help them mitigate against the risk of cyber attacks, while another 37 per cent said it had the potential to allow them to make “transformative” decisions that will make big changes to their operation.

Another 21 per cent focused on the sort of specific important choices it can help business leaders make, with an eye on keeping themselves ahead of the competition.

With so many stating the benefits then, and three-quarters believing it has such an ability to transform the way they operate, why are so many reluctant to do so?

It appears that the main reason is financial. With big data still essentially in its infancy, and so many firms looking to remain low risk in terms of financial hardship – the UK is still slowly recovering economically from the financial crisis that struck the market in 2009 – taking a chance on what many see as an unproven entity is still worrying.

With more than a third citing a lack of evidence of return on investment as one of their biggest concerns, perhaps the onus is on companies creating big data software to provide case studies and examples of the specific ways companies can benefit.

There are other issues that need to be overcome for firms looking to make use of big data as well, however, with one of the main hurdles being the lack of skilled analysts ready to step into roles.

A recent study published by Gartner, for example, stated that the worldwide IT market will face a 75 per cent shortfall in the number of people required in these roles over the next few years.

Tesco, which is one of the biggest IT recruiters in the country, also highlighted this point. It said that even though it currently faces relatively few issues with finding people for such roles, were the uptick in big data demand to continue, there could be a considerable shortage in suitable applicants.

Big data revolutionizes marketing

Posted in Business, Business Intelligence by neilwilson1984 on October 3, 2013

Business intelligence (BI) is radically altering the way marketing functions, according to a major new research report from GfK.

The research carried out exclusively for The Guardian Changing Advertising Summit has shown how the marketing sector is adapting to the unstoppable rise of big data. According to the authors the sector is both excited and apprehensive about the opportunities presented by the proliferation of consumer data. Harnessing this data through effective BI solutions will prove essential.

The survey found 86 per cent of marketers considered that big data was changing the marketing function. Over half (53 per cent) said it was now ‘very important’ with 62 per cent saying their job had already changed as a result. Marketers presented a picture of being squeezed by the rise of digital media on one hand, and pressure to deliver financial results on the other.

With greater access to data come greater expectations of marketers. Marketing professionals believe consumers will expect marketing messages to be more targeted to their needs. Marketers expect increasingly to mine big data to create relevant, personalized campaigns.

Skills are a major hurdle, with only 30 per cent of marketers saying they were well qualified to handle the challenges of big data. As one respondent said: “How many marketers currently even know what an algorithm is – let alone how it can determine product development, placement, price etc?”

Another task facing marketing professionals is that of explaining how they use data. Almost half of the consumers polled (47 per cent) admitted to a poor understanding of what is being collected, although most understand data would be used for targeting them with offers.

Meanwhile it seems marketers need to significantly improve how they handle and act on data. The research revealed that the majority of people are not always convinced by the personalised offers they currently receive. Just one-third (34 per cent) said they were ‘happy’ when companies suggested products for them based on the information they know about them.

Colin Strong, GfK’s managing director for business & technology says:  “Whilst companies can see opportunities for cost-efficiencies and media cut-through, the people we surveyed were often underwhelmed with the personalised messages they had received as a result of campaigns using big data.”

Data needs to be better understood and applied, he suggests: “With the use of big data in its infancy, the marketing industry has to become more sophisticated in its use of the information it collects to convince consumers that relevant, accurately targeted offers do actually make their lives easier.”

The research also found that 81 per cent of consumers said they were more likely to give their business to companies that use their personal data appropriately.

As with any new technology, sensitivity is important and marketers need to prove they can be trusted with people’s personal information, adds Mr Strong. He says: “Those that don’t risk not only ever decreasing business returns, but reputational damage if marketing messages are considered inappropriate or intrusive.”

Business intelligence investment on the rise

Posted in Business, Business Intelligence by neilwilson1984 on September 25, 2013

More companies are preparing to invest in business intelligence solutions, but so far few have actually deployed in the field.

Big data investments in 2013 continue to rise, with 64 percent of organizations investing or planning to invest in big data technology compared with 58 percent in 2012, according to a survey by Gartner, Inc. However, less than eight percent of survey respondents have actually deployed.

“The hype around big data continues to drive increased investment and attention, but there is real substance behind the hype,” said Lisa Kart, research director at Gartner.

Organizations across industries and geographies see ‘opportunity’ and real business value rather than the ‘smoke and mirrors’, she explained.

While two-thirds of organizations are investing or planning to invest in big data technology in 2013, 30 per cent have already taken the leap. One-fifth (19 per cent) plan to invest within the next year, and an additional 15 per cent plan to invest within two years.

Wherever companies are based, investment typically has different stages that organizations go through. The process begins with knowledge gathering, followed by strategy setting. To start with, firms are spending more time than money.

Typically this is followed by an experiment or proof of concept. Again the financial investment is small.

After completing a successful pilot, the first deployments take place. Here the investment curve rises sharply, says Gartner. Over time, business operations start to rely on the deployments, and the investments move from implementing systems to managing them.

“For big data, 2013 is the year of experimentation and early deployment,” said Frank Buytendijk, research vice president at Gartner. “Adoption is still at the early stages with less than eight per cent of all respondents indicating their organization has deployed big data solutions.”

Twenty per cent are piloting and experimenting, 18 per cent are developing a strategy, 19 per cent are knowledge gathering, while the remainder has no plans or don’t know.

In the wide-ranging study, Gartner also revealed that many of the big data activities are incremental to current business practices; for example, better understanding customer needs, making processes more efficient, further reducing costs or better detecting risks. Indeed these make up the majority of the use cases today.

But a sizable minority of organizations are engaging in more “game-changing” activities; for example, 42 per cent are developing new products and business models. One-quarter (23 per cent) are monetizing information directly. This, says Gartner, is encouraging, the “big opportunities” lie mostly in these areas.

“While there are many areas companies would like to address, a slightly different picture emerges when we ask about the priority of these categories,” said Ms. Kart. “Different industries have different priorities when it comes to big data. Industries that are driving the customer experience priority are retail, insurance, media and communications, and banking, while process efficiency is a top priority for manufacturing, government, education, healthcare and transportation organizations.”

IBM commits $1bn for big data

Posted in Business Intelligence by neilwilson1984 on September 24, 2013

IBM is committing $1 billion to help clients capitalize on big data and cloud computing with modern systems built to handle the new wave of applications coming to the data center in the post-PC era. The company is putting the money into Linux and open source technologies for IBM’s Power Systems servers.

As part of the investment, the tech giant announced two new developments, the first of which is a new IBM Power Systems Linux Center for developers, clients and partners in Montpellier, France. The new center is among a growing network of facilities around the world where software developers  can build and deploy new applications for big data, cloud, mobile and social business computing using Linux and the latest IBM POWER7+ processor technology.  Similar centers have already opened in Beijing, New York and Austin, Texas.

Meanwhile, to serve the growing number of developers, business partners and clients interested in running Linux on Power Systems, IBM is expanding its Power Systems cloud for development.  The no-charge cloud service is ramping up its infrastructure to provide more businesses the ability to prototype, build, port, and test Linux applications on the Power platform as well as applications built for AIX and IBM i. 

IBM fellow and vice president of power development Brad McCredie revealed the new investment in front of more than 1,400 delegates at the Linux Foundation’s LinuxCon conference in New Orleans.

He explained the investment will go into product research, design, development, ecosystem skills, and go-to-market programs for clients, developers, business partners, entrepreneurs, academics, and students. 

For McCredie the requirement for first class business intelligence is vital for firms operating in a fast-changing technological landscape.

“Many companies are struggling to manage big data and cloud computing using commodity servers based on decades-old, PC era technology. These servers are quickly overrun by data which triggers the purchase of more servers, creating un-sustainable server sprawl,” he explained.  “The era of big data calls for a new approach to IT systems; one that is open, customizable, and designed from the ground up to handle big data and cloud workloads.” 

Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation commented: “The last time IBM committed $1 billion to Linux, it helped start a flurry of innovation that has never slowed.”

Meanwhile, IBM is introducing new cloud and mobile-enabled social business software and service capabilities which will allow executives to quickly move their business processes into the cloud to drive better decision making and increase productivity.

IBM SmartCloud Connections features File Synch and Share, which lets employees access the cloud and share files securely and in the way that works best for them, online or offline, on their smartphone or tablet, desktop application or browser.

For example, an executive can update a customer presentation on their iPad in real-time, incorporating feedback from a meeting that just ended. They can then synch the newest version into the cloud to ensure the entire team has access to the latest document. 

Pamela Webb from SafeGuard World International, which provides globally managed payroll services, has already seen an increase in productivity and benefits for clients.

She explained: “The ability to actively engage and have real-time visibility to project progress in a secure environment really gives our clients confidence in both the implementation process and our organization.”

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