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The hype and misunderstanding surrounding analytics

Tue, 5th Apr 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

The hype related to analytic technologies and vendors continues unabated. It seems that investors are still pushing up prices of data cruncher and analytic vendors. But as with all things that go up, they must come down.  It was only a couple of months ago that another analytic vendor stock valuation tanked. Did that mark the end of the analytic market? Does the hype around the growing investment mean the winners have been declared? The answer is no in both cases. In a nutshell, the problem is with the term, ‘analytics'.

Put it this way. Having information (i.e. an analytic) that tells you that a train is running late, is great. But what is more valuable is the act that follows the late notification, that helps you get to your meeting on time via other means. It is not the insight alone that creates value- it's the resulting action (or inaction in the face of other actions) that delivers the real value. Thus the value of data is more likely impacted due to context – as in its use.

These so-called number crunching and analytic vendors are important for sure. The value inferred on them by investors maybe sustainable. But in truth, the real value to users of these tools is not even yet quantified, qualified or even known. And it certainly won't show up in the presentation of a dashboard and a visible analytic.

And therein lays the problem that just surfaced for me in a recent 1-1 with a CIO at our recentCIO Forum in Phoenix, Arizona. He said this to me: “Analytics is getting in the way. Our business users equate the word to ‘measuring things'. I want them to think about re-imaging the business process, decision, and value realised. Analytics the word does not convey this scale of change." And this perfectly describes the overly enthusiastic run-up in stock market valuation for analytic technologies.

Now the real fun question: What is the name of the silver bullet that represents the amalgamated technology that does sit at the end of this rainbow? Is it intelligent business operations? Is it advanced analytic? Is it process IQ? Can it even exist if we cannot yet, still, execute all our needed analytics on operational data in a near or real-time, automated manner? All I know is that quite a few different disciplines and technologies need to converge; business process, analytic, decision management, governed and so consistent semantics under all of the above, business rules, workflow, and the list goes on and on. And as a result, the end state is itself re-imaged.

Article by Andrew White, research VP at Gartner

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