August 5, 2015

Digging for Gold: The New Frontier of Business Analytics and Big Data

CIO Strategy Exchange, New York, 2011


Business Analytics (BA) is a gargantuan topic which includes sentiment and predictive analysis, real-time event processing and 100-fold increases in data volumes. Plus data links to mobile devices, sensors, social networking – and many other baubles. It’s emerging now as an extension of traditional Business Intelligence.

Business Intelligence (BI) dealt with transactional data, batch processed into warehouses and then delivered periodically to dashboards so managers could inspect and analyze past performance (a “rear view mirror,” in current parlance). By contrast, Business analytics adds timely data from mobile devices, sensors and Internet sources plus “soft” data including tweets, blogs, Facebook posts and video. And it promises response intervals that range from instantaneous to fast enough to head off imminent problems or exploit immediate opportunities. In other words, speed.

The Industry View

Before turning to our CIOSE interviews, please scan the brief vendor snapshots below. They’re here both to reach common definitions of business analytics and to indicate how major industry suppliers perceive the level of accomplishment among customers. Our first inquiries are to Google and Amazon, companies with formidable technologies and a wealth of experience. We next interview executives at more traditional suppliers: Thomas Kurian, Oracle’s EVP Engineering; David Kenny, former CEO of Digitas, with unparalleled experience in market analytics; and Rob Ashe, IBM’s GM of Business Analytics and Cognos CEO prior to its acquisition. All three confirm our thesis. It’s still early days for ballyhooing the benefits of sophisticated analytics, either in enterprises or in vendor offerings. Ashe and Kurian also help us develop a fundamental taxonomy to clarify the otherwise fuzzy distinction between the youthful field of business analytics and the aging field of business intelligence applications. And each provided their company’s view of the technology trends spurring business analytics.