Analytics has been the “next big thing” in the world of IT for a long time now. Every few months a new technology comes along that experts promise will revolutionise the world of data. From Hadoop and Apache Spark to more futuristic ideas such as the predictive technologies of the “Internet of Things”, it’s hard to know what’s just hype and what will really deliver.
Finding the Real Value in Analytics
Sadly, a lot of what is being promised in the world of analytics is just marketing talk, and those glamorous but hardly practical examples overshadow the real but less “sexy” examples of the applicability of analytics, such as using the Internet of Things for predictive maintenance.
The idea of predictive maintenance is that if a customer needs to call in on their warranty, then the manufacturer of the product loses money. If the customer doesn’t need to invoke the warranty, then not only does the manufacturer not lose money in the medium term, but they also get a happy customer, which means more chance of repeat custom. It’s not a glamorous idea. Some may even consider it a cynical one, but it’s a good example of how analytics can do more than just track website traffic or footfall.
Actionable Business Intelligence
Analytics as a service is becoming increasingly commonplace, and it is being marketed through the idea of ‘actionable BI’, but again, the marketing is over-simplified and does not explain exactly what outcomes we can expect from that intelligence. With traditional IT, there is always a plan, and outcome-based projects are the norm. There are priorities, service level agreements and problems to be solved. The service providers make it clear what they offer and deliver within specific boundaries to their clients.
With analytics, many enterprise customers know that it’s something they should have, but because the field is relatively new, they don’t know why they need it or what they want from it. It is hard to create actionable data when you don’t know what questions to ask. That’s why it’s so important to work with experienced consultants who can help you to figure out what questions to ask and what information you need beyond “yes or no” to work around those questions. Real-time systems will shape the future, but only once business processes catch up to what the systems want us to be doing.