Get ready for AWS business intelligence (BI): it's real and it packs a punch!
Today’s BI market is like a perpetual motion machine — an unstoppable engine that never seems to run out of steam. Forrester currently tracks more than 50 BI vendors, and not a month goes by without a software vendor or startup with tangential BI capabilities trying to take advantage of the craze for BI, analytics, and big data. This month is no exception: On October 7, Amazon crashed the party by announcing QuickSight, a new BI and analytics data management platform. BI pros will need to pay close attention, because this new platform is inexpensive, highly scalable, and has the potential to disrupt the BI vendor landscape. QuickSight is based on AWS’s cloud infrastructure, so it shares AWS characteristics like elasticity, abstracted complexity, and a pay-per-use consumption model. Specifically, the new QuickSight platform provides
New ways to get terabytes of data into AWS
Automatic enrichment of AWS metadata for more effective BI
An in-memory accelerator (SPICE) to speed up big data analytics
An industrial grade data analysis and visualization platform (QuickSight), including mobile clients
Tomorrow Forrester will host our Geneva-based clients for a breakfast meeting and discussion on “Powering Innovation Strategies with Insights.” My colleague, Luca Paderni, will kick off the morning with a presentation on digital disruption in the age of the customer, specifically looking at how to take a pragmatic approach to innovation with the “adjacent possible.” Then I will lead a discussion on how to build an action-oriented approach to data and analytics, exploring examples of companies that have successfully turned their data into new business opportunities – into data-derived innovation.
Thanks to Forrester’s Business Technographics, we know that business and technology leaders prioritize initiatives that secure their position in the age of the customer – to improve customer experience, address rising customer expectations, and improve their products and services (kind of all the same thing, or very closely related). It’s all about the customer. But when we ask about these priorities, the one that comes next – right after the customer-focused initiatives – is innovation: “improving our ability to innovate.” They know that the disruptions they face in the age of the customer won’t be addressed with business as usual (BAU as one of my clients referred to it yesterday; I learned a new TLA). Innovation has been elevated to an initiative, which means that executives are focused on it and likely someone is in-charge of it – we’ll come back to that one.
Consumers (and B2B customers) are more and more empowered with mobile devices and cloud-based, all but unlimited access to information about products, services, and prices. Customer stickiness is increasingly difficult to achieve as they demand instant gratification for their ever changing tastes and requirements. Switching product and service providers is now just a matter of clicking a few keys on a mobile phone. Forrester calls this the age of the customer, which elevates business and technology priorities to achieve:
Business agility.Business agility often equals the ability to adopt, react, and succeed in the midst of an unending fountain of customer driven requirements. Agile organizations make decisions differently by embracing a new, more grass-roots-based management approach. Employees down in the trenches, in individual business units, are the ones who are in close touch with customer problems, market shifts, and process inefficiencies. These workers are often in the best position to understand challenges and opportunities and to make decisions to improve the business. It is only when responses to change come from these highly aware and empowered employees, that enterprises become agile, competitive, and successful.
Microsoft officially launched Cortana Suites — a key part of Windows Azure Intelligent Cloud — in China last week, together with MySQL Database on Azure. Windows Azure Intelligent Cloud provides real-time analytics and open source database services to Chinese customers in nationwide data centers operated by 21Vianet.
To give Chinese customers a better idea of how to use cloud-based analytics, Windows Azure demonstrated customer usage scenarios involving big data analytics on cloud. The China Meteorological Administration partnered with AccuWeather, using Windows Azure to monitor and analyze air quality data from meteorological satellites and local air monitoring stations in real time.
Chinese manufacturers face challenges from digital service providers that better understand customers and shorten the distance from product design to the end user. After implementing real-time analytics on sensor data and customer behavior, manufacturers can improve their business models via:
Product innovation. Chinese manufacturers have started tracking operational data from sensors embedded in their products to manage and predict product upgrade and maintenance cycles. Customers prefer to pay for the time they actually use the equipment — so mechanical manufacturers use cloud analytics to support this sales model. The recent rash of elevator accidents in China primarily involved elevators whose manufacturers had limited labor resources for post-sales services — a common complaint of Chinese elevator manufacturers.
Ah, the good old days. The world used to be simple. ETL vendors provided data integration functionality, DBMS vendors data warehouse platforms and BI vendors concentrated on reporting, analysis and data visualization. And they all lived happily ever after without stepping on each others’ toes and benefiting from lucrative partnerships. Alas, the modern world of BI and data integration is infinitely more complex with multiple, often overlapping offerings from data integration and BI vendors. I see the following three major segments in the market of preparing data for BI:
Fully functional and highly scalable ETL platforms that are used for integrating analytical data as well as moving, synchronizing and replicating operational, transactional data. This is still the realm of tech professionals who use ETL products from Informatica, AbInitio, IBM, Oracle, Microsoft and others.
An emerging market of data preparation technologies that specialize mostly in integrating data for BI use cases and mostly run by business users. Notable vendors in the space include Alteryx, Paxata, Trifecta, Datawatch, Birst, and a few others.
Data preparation features built right into BI platforms. Most leading BI vendors today provide such capabilities to a varying degree.
You’ve heard it before but we said it again – this time in our recent webinar. There's a new kid in town: the chief data officer. Why the new role? Because of an increasing awareness of the value of data and the painful recognition of an inability to take advantage of the opportunities that it provides — due to technology, business, or basic cultural barriers. That was the topic of our webinar presented to a full house a few days ago; we discussed our recent report, Top Performers Appoint Chief Data Officers. Fortunately for those who weren’t there, the presentation – Chief Data Officers Cross The Chasm – is available (to clients) for download.
As the title suggests, chief data officers are no longer just for the early adopters – those enthusiasts and visionaries on the forefront of new technology trends. With 45% of global companies having appointed a chief data officer (not to be confused with a chief digital officer, as we specifically asked about “data”) and another 16% planning to make an appointment in the next 12 months – according to Forrester's Business Technographics surveys, the role of the chief data officer really has move into the mainstream.
However, there remain many companies who are not sure of whether they need a CDO or not. Many of those in our audience fell into that category. We asked two questions of the audience to gauge their interest and their actions to improve their data maturity:
Are you making organizational changes specifically to improve your data capabilities?
In chaos theory, the butterfly effect posits that seemingly small changes at one moment in time can result in large, dramatic changes at another. The subtle flap of a butterfly’s wing can trigger a violent hurricane that occurs miles away or days later. Rationally, the idea may seem like a stretch, but in a digital sense, we are witnesses to – and victims of – the butterfly effect every day through social media. A few individuals’ posts online can escalate into a chorus of voices that mobilizes communities and creates new standards. We saw this last year after a homeless man in Boston turned in a backpack and, more recently, when Cecil the lion was killed in Zimbabwe.
Social media has always been a catalyst for bringing people together as well as an outlet where consumers can vent. But when a surge of voices results in change, social media posts are more than ephemeral cybertext. And, according to Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data, consumers around the world leverage social media to generate buzz about current events, although members of some countries are more vocal than others:
In the past three decades, management information systems, data integration, data warehouses (DWs), BI, and other relevant technologies and processes only scratched the surface of turning data into useful information and actionable insights:
Organizations leverage less than half of their structured data for insights. The latest Forrester data and analytics survey finds that organizations use on average only 40% of their structured data for strategic decision-making.
Unstructured data remains largely untapped. Organizations are even less mature in their use of unstructured data. They tap only about a third of their unstructured data sources (28% of semistructured and 31% of unstructured) for strategic decision-making. And these percentages don’t include more recent components of a 360-degree view of the customer, such as voice of the customer (VoC), social media, and the Internet of Things.
BI architectures continue to become more complex. The intricacies of earlier-generation and many current business intelligence (BI) architectural stacks, which usually require the integration of dozens of components from different vendors, are just one reason it takes so long and costs so much to deliver a single version of the truth with a seamlessly integrated, centralized enterprise BI environment.
Existing BI architectures are not flexible enough. Most organizations take too long to get to the ultimate goal of a centralized BI environment, and by the time they think they are done, there are new data sources, new regulations, and new customer needs, which all require more changes to the BI environment.
Hello from the newest analyst serving Forrester Research’s CIO role. My name is Paul Miller, and I joined Forrester at the beginning of August. I am attached to Forrester’s London office, but it’s already clear that I’ll be working with clients across many time zones.
As my Analyst bio describes, my primary focus is on cloud computing, with a particular interest in the way that cloud-based approaches enable (or even require) organizations to embrace digital transformation of themselves and their customer relationships. Before joining Forrester, I spent six years as an independent analyst and consultant. My work spanned cloud computing and big data and I am sure that this broader portfolio of interests will continue into my Forrester research, particularly where I can explore the demonstrable value that these approaches bring to those who embrace them.
I am still working on the best way to capture and explain my research coverage, talking with many of my new colleagues, and learning about potential synergies between what they already do and what I could or should be doing. I know that the first document to appear with my name on it will be a CIO-friendly look at OpenStack, as the genesis of this new Brief lies in a report that I had to write as part of Forrester’s recruitment process. I have a long (long, long) list of further reports I am keen to get started on, and these should begin to appear online as upcoming titles in the very near future. I shall also be blogging here, and look forward to using this as a way to get shorter thoughts and perspectives online relatively quickly. I’ve been regularly blogging for work since early 2004, although too many of the blogs I used to write for are now only preserved in the vaults of Brewster Kahle’s wonderful Internet Archive.
The explosion of data and fast-changing customer needs have led many companies to a realization: They must constantly improve their capabilities, competencies, and culture in order to turn data into business value. But how do Business Intelligence (BI) professionals know whether they must modernize their platforms or whether their main challenges are mostly about culture, people, and processes?
"Our BI environment is only used for reporting — we need big data for analytics."
"Our data warehouse takes very long to build and update — we were told we can replace it with Hadoop."
These are just some of the conversations that Forrester clients initiate, believing they require a big data solution. But after a few probing questions, companies realize that they may need to upgrade their outdated BI platform, switch to a different database architecture, add extra nodes to their data warehouse (DW) servers, improve their data quality and data governance processes, or other commonsense solutions to their challenges, where new big data technologies may be one of the options, but not the only one, and sometimes not the best. Rather than incorrectly assuming that big data is the panacea for all issues associated with poorly architected and deployed BI environments, BI pros should follow the guidelines in the Forrester recent report to decide whether their BI environment needs a healthy dose of upgrades and process improvements or whether it requires different big data technologies. Here are some of the findings and recommendations from the full research report: