Why You Are Getting Disrupted

The overriding theme of every disruption story I’ve ever heard is that firms thought they had more time than they did. So, I’ve been pondering the why. We can see disruption happening all around us, but why is it so difficult to get out in front of it?

Then I slogged my way through Ray Kurzweil’s Law Of Accelerating Returns and it hit me. Digital disruption is about the clash between exponential change and our brain’s wanting things to be linear. Here is what I mean:

  • The law of accelerating returns says that evolutionary systems, like information technology, produce exponential changes. This happens because one generation of technology builds on and accelerates the returns of past generations. Think of how the Internet led to cloud, accelerating mobile apps, which build on broadband wireless, etc.
  • Accelerating returns produce exponential curves in a system’s fundamental measures. This is what Ray proved mathematically in his law. In information technology that means the measures of power and speed tend to double at consistent intervals, while costs are cut in half. Think Moore’s law.
  • The law of accelerating returns implies that Moore’s law is not the exception, it's the rule. So, we should expect many Moore’s laws, and if fact, that is what we have seen — look up Gilder’s Law, Metcalf’s Law, Kryder’s Law, etc.
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The Cloud Is Disrupting Hadoop

Forrester has seen unprecedented adoption of Hadoop in the last three years. We estimate that firms will spend $800 million in Hadoop software and related services in 2017. Not surprisingly, Hadoop vendors have capitalized on this — Cloudera, Hortonworks, and MapR have gone from a “Who?” to “household” brands in the same period of time.

But like any good run, times change. And the major force exerting pressure on Hadoop is the cloud. In a recent report, The Cloudy Future Of Hadoop, Mike Gualtieri and I examine the impact the cloud is having on Hadoop. Here are a few highlights:

●     Firms want to use more public cloud for big data, and Hadoop seems like a natural fit. We cover the reasons in the report, but the match seems made in heaven. Until you look deeper . . .

●     Hadoop wasn’t designed for the cloud, so vendors are scurrying to make it relevant. In the words of one insider, “Had we really understood cloud, we would not have designed Hadoop the way we did.” As a result, all the Hadoop vendors have strategies, and very different ones, to make Hadoop relevant in the cloud, where object stores and abstract “services” rule.

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I'm Starting An Insight Platforms-as-a-service Wave - Who Should Be Included?

Technology buyers have made it clear to us they want platforms for building data analytics applications. I call these insight platforms, and they were the No. 1 emerging technology of interest for enterprise architects in 2016.  Understanding why is easy — insight platforms provide a common toolset and a place to run what you have built. They accelerate both time-to-value and agility, which are crucially important for keeping up with markets and customers. See Tame The Beast: Forrester's Insight Platform Vendor Landscape and Want To Create Action From Big Data? Look At Enterprise Insight Platform Suites for more information.

Since using more public cloud is the No .1 big data priority, according to our 2016 survey of 3,000+ data and analytics decision makers, Insight Platforms-as-a-Service are next on my Forrester Wave™ agenda. We define Insight Platforms-as-a-service at multitenant platform-as-a-service cloud offerings that include tools for data management, several types of analytics and technology that help firms operationalize insight in other software and processes.

I already know the biggest players - Google, Amazon, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle - but I’m also looking for other providers who want to give them a run for their money. Who else I should look at? For example, should I include:

  • Business service providers like FICO? They can lay claim to having an insight PaaS, and they definitely want a piece of Amazon’s cloud business.
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Want To Create Action From Big Data? Look At Enterprise Insight Platform Suites

By now firms are deep into their big data investments — and frustrated. Too many new and rapidly evolving technologies are built on an open source and named after a bunch of zoo animals. The term insight platform has struck a chord with technology buyers exactly because it offers a path out of this mess. In fact, insight platform was the number-one emerging technology in terms of investment and interest in Forrester’s Q3 2016 Global State Of Enterprise Architecture And Portfolio Management Online Survey.

What exactly is an insight platform though? I introduced the term in my May blog post Insight Platforms Have Arrived and then refined it and explained the vendor landscape in my August post Tame The Beast: Forrester’s Insight Platform Vendor Landscape. Over the last few months, we have been conducting a Forrester Wave™ evaluation of the most mature segment of the market, enterprise insight platform suites, which are:

“…Integrated or partially integrated suites of data management, analytics, and insight execution components that require some integration and configuration to form a platform.”

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Emerging Technologies To Power Your Systems Of Insight

In 2014, I recognized something was a bit off with all the big data excitement and I started interviewing companies to get to the bottom of it. In 2015, Ted Schadler and I published the first of my ideas in the report Digital Insights Are The New Currency Of Business. In that report, we pointed out what was wrong - big data only focused on how to turn more data into more insight. It didn’t say anything about how to turn that insight into more action. In that report we defined a system of insight, which focused big data energy on implementing insights in software using closed loops that create action and continous learning. In this year’s Top Emerging Technologies To Watch report, we evaluated sytems of insight technologies that were creating the most change, and we found many. For example:

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Forrester's Top Emerging Technologies To Watch: 2017-2021

Think back just a few years — social, mobile, cloud, and big data ruled the emerging technology landscape. Business and technology management executives wondered what big data meant, when the cloud would disrupt their companies, and how to engage effectively on social channels. In 2016, Hadoop turned 10, the cloud has been around even longer, and social has become a way of business and life. So what's next?

As a refresh to my 2014 blog and report, here are the next 15 emerging technologies Forrester thinks you need to follow closely. We organize this year's list into three groups — systems of engagement technologies will help you become customer-led, systems of insight technologies will help you become insights-driven, and supporting technologies will help you become fast and connected.

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Tame The Beast: Forrester's Insight Platform Vendor Landscape

The mix of analysts who showed up to a recent Cambridge Semantics briefing illustrates a big problem data and analytics technology buyers have - too many data and analytics solutions and a ton of overlap. For example, of the five analysts who came:

  • One saw Cambridge Semantics as a text analytics tool — and that is true.

  • Another saw it as a search tool — and that too is true.

  • A third viewed it as a cognitive analytics tool — and that is true as well.

  • A fourth came because it was a "BI" tool . . . see my point?

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Insights-Driven Businesses Are Stealing Your Customers

Is your business digital? Like Domino’s Pizza, do you realize that you are not a product or service business, rather you are a software and data business that provides products or services? Do you exploit all of your customers' data to know them inside-out? Are customers flocking to you because you are driving every engagement with insight about them? If the answer to any of these questions is not a resounding, “Yes!”, then you are losing revenue and shareholder value.

In Forrester’s new report, The Insight Driven Business, my colleagues Ted Schadler, James McCormick and I identify a type of business that ignores the "data driven" hype. Instead, insights-driven businesses focus on implementing insights - that is actionable knowledge in the context of a process or decision - in the software that drives every aspect of their business. This is a big shift from most firms that fret over big data and technology. Instead insights-driven businesses focus on turning insights into action. The big data and technology pieces come along naturally as a consequence.

To gauge the economic impact of insights-driven businesses, Forrester built a revenue model that conservatively forecasts insights-driven businesses will earn about $400 billion in 2016; however, by 2020 they will be making over $1.2 trillion a year due to an astonishing compound annual growth rate between 27% and 40%. Given that global growth is less than 4%, how will they pull this off? Plain and simple, they’ll do this by understanding customers more deeply and using that insight to steal them from their competition. 

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Insight Platforms Have Arrived

Are you lost in a confusing soup of vendor-speak about what their data analytics stack actually offers? Big data, data platforms, advanced analytics, data lakes, real-time everything, streaming, the IoT, customer analytics, digital intelligence, real-time interaction, customer decision hubs, new-stuff-as-a-service, the list goes on.

Recognize the convergence happening as vendors evolve their technologies from doing just one thing like predictive analytics or search to many things together. For example, data integration, data warehouse, and BI tools are typically sold separately, but breakout vendor Looker combines data integration, model governance, basic BI, and a runtime for data applications all in one software layer that sits on your data lake. As another example, consider predictive analytics vendor Alpine Data Labs or SAS Viya from SAS. These vendors have built out a lot of data management and insight delivery tooling into their platforms because without it users struggle to maximize value. Another trend is big data search vendors like Maana that now also include hooks for predictive model execution as well as more data management functions. Lastly, systems integrators are packaging their IP and offering it as a data management and analytics integrated product — for example, Saama’s Fluid Analytics Engine or Infosys’ Information Platform.

In fact, the list of innovative vendors blending data management, analytics, and insight execution technology is growing by leaps and bounds. To address this trend, I just published a report, Insight Platforms Accelerate Digital Transformation, in which I created a broad definition that labels this trend:

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Think You Want To Be "Data-Driven"? Insight Is The New Data

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged; not because I’ve had nothing to say, but rather because I’ve been busy with my colleagues Ted Schadler, James McCormick, and Holger Kisker working on a new line of research. We wanted to examine the fact that business satisfaction with analytics went down 21% between 2014 and 2015, despite big investments in big data. We found that while 74% of firms say they want to be “data-driven,” only 29% say they are good at connecting analytics to action. That is the problem.

Ted Schadler and I published some initial ideas around this idea in Digital Insights Are The New Currency Of Business in 2015. In that report, we started using the phrase digital insight to talk about what firms were really after ― action inspired by new knowledge. We saw that data and analytics were only means to that end. We also found that leading firms were turning data into insight and action by building systems of insight ― the business discipline and technology to harness insights and consistently turn data into action.

Here is a key figure from that report:

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