Ventana Research provides unique insight into the analytics and business intelligence (BI) industry. This is important, as its processes and technology play an instrumental role in enabling an organization’s business units and IT to utilize its data in both tactical and strategic ways to perform optimally. To accomplish this, organizations must provide technology that can access the data, generate and apply insights from analytics, communicate the results and support collaboration as needed.
Analytics and BI utilize mathematics to create measurements and metrics that enable data to be visualized in whatever form, in whatever tool or application is needed to provide insights and guide decision-making. In today’s data-driven world, organizations must use BI to understand and plan the details of their operations. BI can be used across every department in an organization, across the lines of business and IT, and can guide employees at all levels to understand and act on data. Organizations also use BI to track costs, create staffing plans, assess employee and supplier performance, identify variances and plan corrective actions. BI also helps inform employees and facilitate communication throughout the organization to coordinate actions toward a common mission and specific objectives. Operating without BI would be like flying a plane without an instrument panel.
While BI as a modern business tool dates back some three decades, the elements of business intelligence today have expanded well beyond query, reporting, analysis and publishing. The tools have expanded to include the sourcing and integration of data and the use of analytics for planning and forecasting. They also include dashboards that present analytics in a variety of visualizations. BI today also enables presentation of analytics in the form of natural-language narratives. And the collaborative sharing of insights is helping to reduce the time to take action and make decisions. Recently, artificial intelligence and machine learning have begun to extend BI, enabling it to classify, predict and suggest behaviors that will help improve business operations.
Ventana Research has conducted market research in a spectrum of related areas including Data Preparation, Machine Learning, Data and Analytics in the Cloud, Next-Generation Predictive Analytics and Big Data Analytics and Integration. We have examined the expansion of business intelligence through the use of cloud computing, mobility and advanced analytics as well as how BI products use collaboration capabilities, social media techniques and location-related analytics.
Self-service analytics continues to be a goal for most organizations and those that can achieve it report greater satisfaction with their use of analytics and BI. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of those who can access analytics without the assistance of IT said they are satisfied while slightly more than half (54%) of those who require the assistance of IT said the same.
Organizations seeking to provide self-service analytics also need to provide self-service data preparation. In many of our research studies, preparing data is reported as the most time-consuming part of the analytics process. However, that preparation, and thus the involvement of IT, appears sometimes to be necessary; our research finds that fewer than half (42%) of organizations are comfortable allowing business users to work with data that has not been integrated or prepared for them by IT.
Interest in advanced analytics, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, continues to grow and its availability is an important consideration in examining analytic platforms. Organizations that analyze their data using machine learning technology state that they gain a competitive advantage, improve customer experiences, increase sales and respond faster to opportunities. In light of these benefits it is no surprise that nearly two-thirds (62%) of organizations report using machine learning today and nearly all (96%) organizations participating in our research said they plan to use machine learning eventually.
We also see a growing interest in – and a growing set of capabilities for – the use of collaboration in conjunction with analytics. Two-thirds of organizations report they are using or plan to use collaboration with analytics. Collaboration provides a way for organizations to derive more value from their analytics by sharing and interacting on the results with others who can put the information to use in the operations of the business. Collaboration also helps making it easier for individuals to find the information or analyses that they need more quickly.
For analytics to be effective, they need to be available to line-of-business personnel as needed in their normal course of conducting business, which today means providing rich mobile access to analytics to support a mobile workforce seeking to conduct business in any location at any time. Workers today expect these mobile capabilities, which means organizations must make choices to provide analytics and BI platforms that can deliver them.
Ventana Research projects that by 2021 more than half of all analytics will be generated via embedded analytics.
Many organizations want analytics embedded into their operational systems, which typically requires custom development. Embedded analytics make it easier for line of business workers to access the information they need without having to access a different system and also reduce the need for additional training. Vendors have made significant progress in building out rich APIs that provide access to nearly all the functionality of their products. Ventana Research projects that by 2021 more than half of all analytics will be generated via embedded analytics.
Over time, two categories of vendors emerged, those offering interactive visualization and data discovery capabilities and those offering more static query, reporting and dashboarding. Initially these were separate categories, but as organizations realized that both sets of capabilities were important to the process of BI, vendors in each category began expanding their capabilities to include both sets of capabilities. Vendors who came to market with visualization and discovery capabilities have been adding traditional query, reporting and dashboarding. And traditional query, reporting and dashboarding vendors have been adding visualization and discovery of analytics. The challenge for both sets of vendors is to deliver breadth of capabilities while maintaining ease of use.
SVP & Research Director