TDWI: Almost half of organisations using analytics

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Feb
2016
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TDWI: Almost half of organisations using analytics
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Nearly half (47 per cent) of organisations are now embedding analytics into operational systems, a new study has found. 

Research from The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI) revealed that 30 per cent of respondents introduce predictive models into business processes within one month, while 58 per cent do it between two and nine months and 14 per cent spend longer than nine months on the process. 

Some of the challenges that businesses face when it comes to introducing and operationalising analytics include poor data quality, an absence of skilled personnel and low budgets. 

The majority of respondents focus on past incidents in their analysis, though 19 per cent of businesses are using analytics to consider what could happen in the coming years. 

How is analysis technology being used?

TDWI found that enterprises are now introducing analysis into dashboards, devices, applications and databases. Employees are using these processes to make decisions that affect profit or cost, with applications using the technology to improve how they connect with customers. 

Fern Halper, director of TDWI Research for advanced analytics and the author of the report, said: “Consumability has become a hot topic because it makes analytics available to a wider group of people than simply those who analyse data or develop models and share it with a select few. As more people use analytics output, its value increases.”

The research found that 54 per cent of enterprises are now using analytics for planning and strategy, whereas 38 per cent are planning to use analytics over the course of the next three years.  

Sales, marketing, finance and operations are the main departments where analytics is used, with respondents suggesting that growth in these fields will be especially strong. As well as this, a third of respondents believe that users in the four groups will make use of analytics in the next three years.

How will analytics grow in the coming years?

Research from Technavio found that the global BPO business analytics is set to grow at a CAGR of 37.42 per cent between 2016 and 2020.  

It was found that the business analytics BPO services is enjoying significant growth, with organisations leveraging analytics to make better decisions about their customer needs and trends in the future. 

Technavio discovered that there is a high demand for providers capable of processing structured and unstructured data and create better insights to ensure improved decision making. 

The group found that business analytics BPO services will help organisations to leverage data assets and boost their profit and loss drivers including reduced costs, increased revenues and a better return on investment (ROI). 

With more data now available for businesses, it is important for them to understand how they can properly identify consumer behaviours and tailor their customer experience to ensure increased customer loyalty

Thanks to analytics, companies can identify how their audience uses their website and check whether they are properly engaged with their brand message. 

Could more money be spent on cloud analytics?

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Feb
2016
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Could more money be spent on cloud analytics?
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Cloud analytics has become an important technology in the IT sector as more companies now rely on it in order to address their business’ performance. 

With more professionals now relying on online storage instead of spending money on hard drive space, it is clear that the technology is being embraced by a number of industries in order to improve security.

A study from Informatica found that 68 per cent of respondents will investigate or deploy cloud analytics solutions in the next year, whereas 74 per cent are set to adopt a hybrid or cloud-only method to analytics across the next three years.

The report shows that cloud analytics adoption is mainly being driven by growing end-user requirements for better analytics, with key factors including consistency of data across systems (81 per cent), real-time data aggregation and analysis (71 per cent) and better ways of exploring data in terms of visuals (70 per cent). 

What are the key considerations for cloud analytics?

Many considerations need to be made when it comes to cloud analytics, and Informatica’s study found that the robustness of the data security framework was the most important factor to evaluate (81 per cent), followed by ease of use (78 per cent), ease of on-going administration (77 per cent), the ability to integrate on-premise and cloud data (78 per cent) and the ability to cleanse data (74 per cent). 

Ajay Gandhi, vice president of product marketing for Informative Cloud, said: “IDG’s survey shows that cloud analytics is on the fast track to becoming the new normal for enterprise analytics, supporting user requirements for enhanced functionality, flexible data access and simplicity, and IT requirements for lower costs and increased agility. 

“The survey also makes it clear that as customers move to attain these advantages, they are not going to compromise on data security. It also reveals that they want the fullest measure of flexibility and ease-of-use from their cloud analytics solutions in order to empower the growing class of users who need analytic capabilities, but who lack the specialised skills required by legacy on-premise solutions.”

How is cloud analytics being used?

Cloud analytics is being used in a number of ways, with Informatica’s research showing that organisations are being used in several ways, with 43 per cent incorporating analytics into Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Supply Chain Management (SCM) and other operational applications.

Some 39 per cent analyse cloud data sources including software-as-a-service (SaaS), social and IoT (37 per cent) and hybrid data warehousing (32 per cent). 

Cloud analytics is also increasing in popularity due to the need to access both cloud and on-premise data, including the need to analyse data from on-premise applications (55 per cent), on-premise data warehouses (55 per cent), cloud data warehouses (49 per cent) and SaaS applications (44 per cent). An additional demand is the support for big data sources. 

The study highlighted that one of the key benefits of cloud analytics is lower upfront costs (60 per cent), improved agility and faster time to market (61 per cent), cost-effective scaling for larger data sets (60 per cent) and self-service options for non-technical users (51 per cent). 

Dan Vesset, Program VP, Business Analytics and Information Management at IDC, said: “With most business analytics solutions today iterative development, experimentation, and incremental roll-outs have become the norm.”

Mr Vesset explained that the agility and adaptability of the solutions is one of the biggest selling points of cloud analytics services, as they allow customers to try and buy and address any new requirements. 

Gartner: Global business intelligence and analytics market rises in value

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Feb
2016
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Gartner: Global business intelligence and analytics market rises in value
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The global business intelligence and analytics market has seen a large amount of activity in recent years, a new study has indicated. 

Research from Gartner found that global revenue in the business intelligence (BI) and analytics market is forecast to reach $16.9 billion (£11.73 billion) in 2016, representing a 5.2 per cent rise from 2015. 

The study suggested that the BI and analytics market has now reached the final stages of a multi-year transition from IT-led, system-of-record reporting to business-led, self-service analytics. 

Because of this, the modern business intelligence and analytics (BI&A) platform is set to meet new requirements for accessibility and analytical insight. This will help to improve the amount of data and detail available to businesses and improve their efficiency. 

How important is analytics to modern businesses?

Gartner believes that analytics has become an increasingly strategic technology for many businesses, turning into a central element for the majority of roles. The organisation believes that every business is now focused on analytics, with company processes and employees now closely tied to analytics. 

Ian Bertram, managing vice president at Gartner, said: “The shift to the modern BI and analytics platform has now reached a tipping point. Organisations must transition to easy-to-use, fast and agile modern BI platforms to create business value from deeper insights into diverse data sources.”

In order to meet the time-to-insight demanded in today’s competitive business environment, many organisations now want to democratise analytics capabilities by using self-service technology and the movement could be set to continue rising in popularity in the coming years. 

What is different in BI and analytics platforms?

However, there is one key difference between modern BI and analytics platforms and traditional, IT-centric reporting: the amount of upfront modelling required to build analytics content. Creating analytics content via IT-centric reporting includes using IT consolidating and modelling data ahead of time. 

In comparison, a modern BI&A platform accommodates the IT-enabled development of analytics content. Analytics is also now moving into more applications and has now developed to the point where appropriate and inappropriate actions can be put in place for specific industry departments. 

However, BI is where companies truly determine the full value of their data. Without the right ways of interpreting information, it can be challenging for analytics to truly inform business managers about developments in their company. 

BI is designed in order to notice business patterns and trends and allow officers to report on findings, so it is understandable why its value has risen so much in recent years. 

Where could BI&A move in the next few years?

The BI&A market has already gone through significant changes in recent years, causing businesses to reconsider how they think about data management. 

Along with the growth of BI&A, companies need to rethink how to tackle a variety of cyber threats in the industry, ranging from phishing attacks to general common sense approaches to data management. 

With important information now kept on a variety of devices, it is vital that employees are aware of the dangers that come with leaving information unprotected. Encryption should be used on all folders and different passwords must be assigned to key information. Otherwise, companies could be at risk of disclosing vital information to criminals. 

Gartner: 90% of large organisations set to hire chief data officer by 2019

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Jan
2016
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Gartner: 90% of large organisations set to hire chief data officer by 2019
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Some 90 per cent of large organisations are expected to hire a chief data officer (CDO) by 2019, a new study has suggested.

Research from Gartner indicates that increased efforts to drive competitive advantage and better efficiency through improved information assets is expected to result in a rise in the number of CDOs by the end of 2019.

These personnel are expected to face a number of challenges, with the organisation predicting that just 50 per cent will be successful by the end of 2019. A particular difficulty is that the role will be new in most organisations and many new CDOs will be developing their skills on the job.

They will also face the difficult task of creating an information strategy with appropriate metrics that connect their team’s activities to measurable business outcomes.

Mario Faria, research vice president at Gartner, said: "Business leaders are starting to grasp the huge potential of digital business, and demanding a better return on their organisations' information assets and use of analytics.

"It's a logical step to create an executive position – the CDO – to handle the many opportunities and responsibilities that arise from industrial-scale collection and harnessing of data."

Many CDOs already report high levels of change resistance, especially from IT departments regarding the control of information assets and how they are governed.

On the other hand, successful CDOs are working closely with chief information officers (CIO) to persuade professionals to adopt the new ways of working.

Mr Faria explained that it is important that companies account for the soft skills required in CDO roles, as their success in the position will be dictated by how they can gain the support of business leaders. 

Meeting the key big data security challenges

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Jan
2016
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As more businesses embrace big data analytics solutions, the amount of information held in databases all around the world is growing at an extremely fast rate. However, while this presents many new opportunities to gain insights, it also creates challenges.

One of the biggest issues is security. These applications present a tempting target for criminals as data volumes rise, offering them personal and financial details that can be used for fraud.

In previous years, internal applications that make use of this data have been regarded as low risk. However, it was noted by Data Center Knowledge that as adoption of web, mobile and cloud-based applications increases, sensitive data becomes accessible via more platforms, some of which are particularly vulnerable to hackers.

"The more data is stored, the more vital it is to ensure its security," stated contributor Aleksandr Panchenko, head of A1QA's complex web QA department. "A lack of data security can lead to great financial losses and reputational damage for a company. As far as big data is concerned, losses due to poor IT security can exceed even the worst expectations."

There are a range of particular challenges when it comes to big data security that were identified by Mr Panchenko. For example, he noted that the pace of change of the sector creates difficulties.

Because tools such as NoSQL databases are constantly evolving, it is very difficult for security solutions to keep up with demand. Most distributed systems' computations also have only a single level of protection, which is not recommended.

The sheer scale of the data involved also poses challenges. For instance, validation processes to ensure incoming data is trustworthy are often not performed, while detailed audits are not routinely performed on big data due to the huge amount of information involved.

Meanwhile, some companies are unwilling or unable to institute access controls to ensure only approved personnel have access to applications. And even among those businesses that do put solutions in place, access control encryption and connections security can quickly become dated and inaccessible to the IT specialists who rely on it.

To overcome these obstacles and ensure that big data analytics applications are as secure as possible, Mr Panchenko offered several recommendations. For starters, he advised companies to focus on applications security as opposed to device security, as well as isolate servers that contain critical data,

Companies should also look to implement real-time security information and event management solutions that can give early warnings of any unusual behaviour that may be an indicator of a data breach. Being able to react quickly to any alerts could make the difference between a successful defence or sensitive data being compromised.

"Malicious attacks on IT systems are becoming more complex and new malware is constantly being developed," Mr Panchenko said. "Unfortunately, companies that work with big data face these issues on a daily basis. Nevertheless, every problem has a solution and finding an effective and suitable answer for your organisation is indeed possible."

How can retailers avoid key big data mistakes?

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Jan
2016
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How can retailers avoid key big data mistakes?
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While big data has been making its presence felt across many sectors in the last couple of years, one area where it has great potential is in the retail space. With these businesses able to gather a large amount of information on their customers, such as their buying preferences, they can use this to ensure they are offering the products their customers want, at the most competitive prices.

However, there are several pitfalls that retailers need to avoid if they are to make big data analytics a success. In a recent piece for Internet Retailing, vice-president of EMEA sales at point-of-sale software supplier Vend John Coulston said it is easy to make simple errors that can lead to important information being ignored, or customer trust being lost.

Among the most common problems is ignoring the data that retailers already have. Many companies promote loyalty schemes that can be a great source of data on their customers' activities, yet do not make the most of it.

"Data should be collected with the chief intention of benefiting the customer – which in turn will benefit your business," Mr Coulston said. "For example, high street bakery Greggs does this well through its loyalty scheme, which collects customer data and then provides instant, targeted offers and rewards to shoppers through their mobile phones."

Retailers also need to ensure their employees are able to tap into these resources. This means not only training them on how to use big data analytics software, but educating them on what they can do to turn this insight into action.

For instance, Mr Coulston stated that training staff members in all areas to spot trends, such as what items are popular and often sold together, and empowering employees to look deeper at customer data can help create a more personal experience for shoppers. So if a regular customer walks into a shore, associates should be trained to check that customer’s purchase history or loyalty status so they can interact with them in the most relevant way.

Keeping this human touch will be vital if analytics programmes are to be a success. While technology can provide a wealth of information on individual customers, it shouldn't be used to replace the specialised knowledge and skills of retailers' best staff.

"Your analytics software may be able to tell you what’s selling and what’s not, but gathering insights first-hand about how your customers feel about your merchandise can only be done through qualitative data-gathering and communicating with shoppers," Mr Coulston said.

He also emphasised the importance of ensuring businesses are ethical in how they use data. "Getting customers to trust you with their information – from email addresses and birthdays, to purchase histories – is a significant responsibility, so be careful with it," the columnist said. "The last thing your business wants is to come off as untrustworthy, or have to deal with stolen data."

EU set to analyse big data use in mergers

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Jan
2016
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EU set to analyse big data use in mergers
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The European Union (EU) is planning to take a more detailed look at whether the large amounts of consumer data carried by large internet companies violates competition rules as part of its analysis of proposed mergers.

After taking over as Europe's leading antitrust enforcer in 2014, Margrethe Vestager has enhanced the investigations into US web giants including Google and Amazon in order to determine whether this information should be regulated more strictly.

Ms Vestager noted that protecting consumer privacy transcends her agency's remit, adding that the power large internet companies wield should not make it too challenging for other companies to compete.

This move comes after the European Commission suggested that Google favoured its own shopping services in search results ahead of rivals and is considering potential sanctions against the search engine.

Speaking to a conference of top European and US entrepreneurs and investors, Ms Vestager explained: "If just a few companies control the data you need to satisfy customers and cut costs, then you can give them the power to just drive rivals out of the market.

"If we analyse a merger, if we have a suspicion or concern when it comes to antitrust, if it comes to data, of course we will look at it. If a company's use of data is so bad for competition that it outweighs the benefit, then you may have to step in to restore the level playing field."

Ms Vestager embraced efforts by businesses to develop standards for internet data protection and emphasised the advantages noticed in businesses analysing big data to identify consumer demand to offer personalised shopping and organise better transportation.

She noted that the EU is planning to publish a wide-ranging policy paper on online services by the middle of the year.

Large companies increasingly turning to big data tools

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Jan
2016
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Large companies increasingly turning to big data tools
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The popularity of big data analytics continued to grow last year, with more large companies adopting the technology to assist with the decision making

According to a NewVantage study, 65 per cent of Fortune 1000 firms report that they now have at least one example of Big Data in production, almost double the 31.4 per cent recorded in 2013. Some 26.8 per cent of companies stated that they will invest more than $50 million in Big Data by 2017, marking a significant rise from the 5.4 per cent recorded in 2014.

The chief data officer position has also become more established, with 54 per cent of companies now having one on their team. Some 20 per cent of companies also reported that the chief data officer is the executive with primary ownership responsibility for big data.

Some 33.9 per cent of companies said that business and technology cooperation was the most critical factor in business adoption, putting it ahead of all other factors by a wide margin.

Strong business sponsorship was viewed as the most critical factor by 23.2 per cent of companies, while technology leadership (5.4 per cent) and technology selection (0 per cent) were viewed less favourably.

The study found that business insights and speed are the key drivers of big data investment, with businesses now citing the ability to develop better insights into their business and customers (37 per cent) as the largest driver of Big Data investment,

Second in this list is the advantages gained from faster speeds, including faster-time-to-answer, faster-time-to-decision and faster speed-to-market (29.7 per cent). Companies also require greater analytics capabilities (9.3 per cent) and the chance to develop a data-driven culture.

With more information now available for businesses, it is vital that specialists protect their data and make sure workers are aware of how to use it properly, or they could leave themselves vulnerable to cyber criminals. 

Can the insurance sector get consumers on board with data gathering?

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Jan
2016
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Can the insurance sector get consumers on board with data gathering?
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Over the last few years, many businesses have been tempted by the idea of using big data to gain a much more detailed picture of their customers, which they can in turn use to provide more personalised offers and even discounts.

But the catch with this is that in many cases, consumers will be wary of technology solutions that delve deep into their personal information. In some situations, they will need to give their express permission for a company to collect and use their data – and this can prove tricky to obtain, despite the benefits on offer.

This is a problem currently being experienced by the car insurance sector. It was noted by the Wall Street Journal that the advent of big data analytics, combined with Internet of Things technology, has provided great opportunities for the sector. 

Whereas in the past, insurers had to rely on broad categories such as age, occupation and car type to determine risk levels, by using sensors in their customers' vehicles, they can track behaviour much more accurately to deliver personalised quotes. 

For instance, among the metrics tracked by US insurer Allstate is hard braking – defined by the company as a speed reduction of more than eight miles per hour in less than one second. Analysis of this data reveals that drivers who do this more than eight times for every 500 miles driven are 73 per cent more likely to be involved in an accident in any given year.

However, despite the impact this may have on premiums – with large discounts on offer for the safest drivers – consumer trust in the technology remains low.

According to US insurer Progressive, almost 80 per cent of its customers would qualify for a discount through the use of driver trackers and big data analytics, with savings of up to 30 per cent available.

But just a quarter of the company's new customers use the technology, while a survey by the company found around 40 per cent of people stated they would never consent to the use of such sensors.

Chief executive of Progressive Glenn Renwick noted this is a challenge that's particularly prevalent in his industry. "Insurance is not something where people say, 'I trust you,'" he said.

Therefore, companies in the sector are having to create even more incentives in order to persuade people to use the technology. Allstate, for example, offers drivers the chance to earn points through safe-driving challenges, such as driving below 80 miles an hour and avoiding hard braking for three straight days, which can be redeemed for  deals on merchandise, gift cards and local offers.

In years to come however, some experts are predicting that resistance to the use of data-gathering for use in analytics-based businesses will fade. Paul Saffo, a Stanford University professor and specialist in technological change, told the Journal that  usage-based pricing will be inevitable for the insurance sector in the long term.

He added that in the US at least, consumers have already shown increasing willingness in recent decades to sacrifice privacy for convenience, and they will continue to do so – even as they complain about the technology.

What will the big data challenges for 2016 be?

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Jan
2016
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What will the big data challenges for 2016 be?
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Big data is in a state of constant evolution, with new technologies and software regularly emerging in the field.

There are increasing numbers of companies that are turning to big data in order to control the vast amounts of information controlled on a variety of devices, ranging from laptops and tablets to mobile phones and even smartwatches.

It was noted by Information Age that the result of this is that big data can no longer be considered a passing trend. Enterprises need to accept that the technology is here to stay – as when internal communications, cloud computing and social media interactions are considered, organisations are having to handle more information than ever before.

With so much data now readily available to companies, organising it is harder than ever before. Information Age noted  it is increasingly challenging to put big data into a unified format, especially when it comes to governing information and making sure it does not fall into the wrong hands.

As well as this, big data remains a relatively new technology and companies that have just begun using it will be more likely to encounter difficulties. Accessing logs and audit trails could also be challenging for businesses that are looking to check harder-to-reach information.

Big data has become such a phenomenon in the IT industry that likely that some companies will feel they have to investigate the technology, even though it may not necessarily be suited to them.

Prior to investing any time or money into big data, companies should fully consider what they are hoping to get out of big data. It may be that workers need to complete more training on data mining and machine learning, or they could struggle to interpret data properly.

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