David Menninger's Analyst Perspectives

The 2021 Market Agenda for Analytics: Converting Data Into Insights

Posted by David Menninger on Feb 24, 2021 3:00:00 AM

Ventana Research recently announced its 2021 market agenda for Analytics, continuing the guidance we’ve offered for nearly two decades to help organizations derive optimal value from technology investments to improve business outcomes.

Market Agenda Logo 2021 (1)

It’s been exciting to follow innovations in the analytics market, but for businesses, it can be challenging to stay on top of these changes and find ways to operationalize analytics. We craft our annual market agenda using our firm’s knowledge of technology vendors and products as well as our expertise in business requirements. Through this ongoing research, we offer insights and best practices that help both IT and the lines of business understand this dynamic market segment and use these technologies to their maximum potential.

Our Analytics practice encompasses six focus areas: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Business Intelligence, Embedded Analytics, Natural Language Processing, Process Mining and Streaming Analytics. Our overarching Analytics and Data Benchmark Research explores each of these topics, providing insights to guide decision-making. Here’s our view of how each of these areas will advance in 2021.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

AI and ML are transforming analytics. Opportunities to take advantage of these technologies will increase over the coming year as vendors automate more AI/ML processes and further incorporate AI/ML capabilities in products. Our upcoming research will explore the extent to which these advances reduce the skills needed to reap the full benefits of AI/ML.

For an assessment of how your organization stacks up in its use of this technology, take our short Dynamic Insights survey on Machine Learning.

Business Intelligence

Business intelligence produces insights from data to guide decision-making, employing an increasing variety of analytic, presentation and deployment techniques. Today’s sophisticated analytic needs require integration of data and analytics processes. These processes are often supplemented with AI/ML-based assistance to enable non-technical workers to use these tools more effectively. This year we will continue to study how software vendors are incorporating these changes and how well organizations are able to adopt these advances.

Embedded Analytics


Segregated analytics and business processes are not uncommon, but the resulting analysis is less insightful than can be derived when the two are integrated. Organizations gain a more comprehensive business view through the data that comes from embedding analytics in business processes.

We assert that by 2022, more than one-half of line-of-business personnel will have immediate access to cross-functional analytics embedded in their activities and processes helping to make operational decision-making more efficient and effective. Throughout 2021, enterprise software developers and application vendors will continue to refine embedded analytics, as BI vendors hone their application programming interfaces to enable custom and embedded analytics.

Natural Language Processing

Conversational computing is becoming an increasingly common part of user interfaces. Smart speakers, mobile assistants and chatbots are propelling consumer interest in natural language capabilities. NLP generates narratives based on a set of data values, using text and voice as inputs to access information.

Many BI vendors have developed their initial NLP capabilities. Future enhancement by ML will improve language recognition, making NLP more accurate and easier to use over time. We continue to explore these issues in our Natural Language Processing Dynamic Insights research, studying these advances and how organizations are embracing them.

Process Mining


Most business processes are supported by software applications. These applications provide a lens into the multitude of operational processes in an organization. In recent years, we’ve seen the emergence of a new category of technology that mines the information and statistics collected through these processes. We assert that through 2022, one in four organizations will look to streamline their operations by exploring process mining. For 2021, we have added a focus area to study how this information can be analyzed to better understand and improve the operations of an organization. Watch for a new Dynamic Insights study in this area later this year.

Streaming Analytics

Data now streams into organizations from myriad sources, among them social media feeds and internet-of-things devices. The process of using that data is evolving as the amount and frequency of data collection increases. Including streaming data in analytical efforts enhances operational activities and processes to better support real-time decision-making and help make organizations more agile. We will continue to study these issues in our Streaming Data Dynamic Insights research.


Analytics is having a major impact across lines of business. It’s changing the customer experience, allowing organizations to use data to optimize engagement. It’s transforming finance operations, providing insights on performance and enabling more forward-looking planning. It’s improving hiring and retention as part of the human capital management process. Sales, marketing and supply chain functions also stand to benefit from the context and guidance that well-implemented analytics can provide. Through our 2021 market agenda for Analytics, we will continue our relentless focus on helping organizations realize the valuable operational improvements that can come to light through effective data analysis.

Subscribe to our Ventana Research community to stay up-to-date on our 2021 research efforts. Visit our analytics expertise and topic areas for a detailed agenda and our continuously updated 90-day research calendar as well as additional research facts and best practices.



Topics: embedded analytics, Analytics, Business Intelligence, natural language processing, AI and Machine Learning, Process Mining, Streaming Analytics

David Menninger

Written by David Menninger

David is responsible for the overall research direction of data, information and analytics technologies at Ventana Research covering major areas including Analytics, Big Data, Business Intelligence and Information Management along with the additional specific research categories including Information Applications, IT Performance Management, Location Intelligence, Operational Intelligence and IoT, and Data Science. David is also responsible for examining the role of cloud computing, collaboration and mobile technologies as they affect these areas. David brings to Ventana Research over twenty-five years of experience, through which he has marketed and brought to market some of the leading edge technologies for helping organizations analyze data to support a range of action-taking and decision-making processes. Prior to joining Ventana Research, David was the Head of Business Development & Strategy at Pivotal a division of EMC, VP of Marketing and Product Management at Vertica Systems, VP of Marketing and Product Management at Oracle, Applix, InforSense and IRI Software. David earned his MS in Business from Bentley University and a BS in Economics from University of Pennsylvania.