Introducing The New Insights Service Provider

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

Do you ever feel like you’re facing a moving target?  Whether it’s the latest customer requirements, or how to improve operations, or to retain your best employees, or to price your products, the context in which you are doing business is increasingly dynamic.  And, so are the tools you need to better understand that context?  Everyone is talking about the promise of big data and advanced analytics, but we all know that companies struggle to reach the Holy Grail. 

Data and analytics tools and the skills required to use them are changing faster than ever. Technologies that were university research projects just last year are now part of a wide range of products and services. How can firms keep up with the accelerated pace of innovation? Alas, many cannot. According to Forrester's Q3 2015 Global State Of Strategic Planning, Enterprise Architecture, And PMO Online Survey, 73% of companies understand the business value of data and aspire to be data-driven but just 29% confirm that they are actually turning data into action. Many firms report having mature data management, governance, and analytics practices, but yesterday's skills are not necessarily what they will need tomorrow — or even today.

The same goes for data sources.  We all know that using external data sources enhances the insights from our business intelligence.  But which data and where to get it?

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What Qualifies A BI Vendor As A Native Hadoop BI Platform?

Boris Evelson

With the incredible popularity of big data and Hadoop every Business Intelligence (BI) vendor wants to also be known as a "BI on Hadoop" vendor. But what they really can do is limited to a) querying HDFS data organized in HIVE tables using HiveQL or b) ingest any flat file into memory and analyze the data there. Basically, to most of the BI vendors Hadoop is just another data source. Let's now see what qualifies a BI vendor as a "Native Hadoop BI Platform". If we assume that all BI platforms have to have data extraction/integration, persistence, analytics and visualization layers, then "Native Hadoop/Spark BI Platforms" should be able to (ok, yes, I just had to add Spark)

 

  • Use Hadoop/Spark as the primary processing platform for MOST of the aforementioned functionality. The only exception is visualization layer which is not what Hadoop/Spark do.
  • Use distributed processing frameworks natively, such as
    • Generation of MapReduce and/or Spark jobs
    • Management of distributed processing framework jobs by YARN, etc
    • Note, generating Hive or SparkSQL queries does not qualify
  • Do declarative work in the product’s main user interface interpreted and executed on Hadoop/Spark directly. Not via a "pass through" mode.
  • Natively support Apache Sentry and Apache Ranger security
 
Did I miss anything?

What are the typical Text Analytics jobs and responsibilities?

Boris Evelson

Hi

I am kicking off a research stream which will result in the "Text Analytics Roles & Responsibilities" doc. Before I finalize an RFI to our clients to see who/how/when/where they employ for these projects and applications, I'd like to explore what the actual roles and responsibilities are. So far we've come up with the following roles and their respective responsibilities
  • Business owner. The ultimate recipient of text analytics process results. So far I have
    • Brand manager
    • Customer intelligence analyst
    • Customer service/call center analyst
    • Risk manager
    • Competitive intelligence analyst
    • Product R&D analyst
    • Anyone else?
  • Linguist/Data Scientist. Builds language and statistical rules for text mining (or modifies these from an off-the-shelf-product). Works with business owners to
    • Create "golden copies" of documents/content which will be used as base for text analytics
    • Works with data stewards and business ownes to define corporate taxonomies and lexicon
  • Data Steward. Owns corporate lexicon and taxonomies
  • Architect. Owns big data strategy and architecture (include data hubs, data warehouses, BI, etc) where unstructured data is one of the components
  • Developer/integrator. Develops custom built text analytics apps or embeds text analytics functionality into other applications (ERP, CRM, BI, etc)
  • Others?
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Selecting Professional Service Provider For Your Business Intelligence/Information Management/Analytics/Big Data Projects

Boris Evelson

You've done all the right things by following your enterprise vendor selection methodology. You created an RFI and sent it out to all of the vendors on your "approved" list. You then filtered out the responses based on your requirements, and sent out a detailed RFP. You created a detailed scoring methodology, reviewed the proposals, listened to the in-person presentations, and filtered out everyone but the top respondents. But you still ended up with more than one. What do you do?

If you shortlisted two or more market leaders (see Forrester's latest evaluation)  I would not agonize over who has better methodologies, reference architectures, training, project execution and risk management, etc. They all have top of the line capabilities in all of the above. Rather, I'd concentrate on the following specifics
 
People
  • The vendor who proposed more specific named individuals to the project, and you reviewed and liked their resumes, gets an edge over a vendor who only proposed general roles to be staffed at the time of the project kick off.
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ForecastView Meets Business Technology

Welcome to my blog!

I joined Forrester recently as a senior forecast analyst on the ForecastView team focusing on business technology (BT) topics. What is ForecastView you ask? It’s a Forrester product that puts the numbers around our research reports by publishing a five-year quantitative outlook. To learn how our forecasts can help you with your investment decisions, read our ForecastView overview.

Our BT forecast team takes a look at cloud, security, IoT, business intelligence, marketing ad technology, Big Data, and other hot topics in the BT space. We launched our ForecastView BT bundle in 2015. In case you missed it, our three 2015 forecasts examined eCommerce platforms, cloud security, and API management. Some highlights:

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Build More Effective Data Visualizations

Boris Evelson
Industry-renowned data visualization expert Edward Tufte once said: "The world is complex, dynamic, multidimensional; the paper is static, flat. How are we to represent the rich visual world of experience and measurement on mere flatland?" He's right: There's too much information out there for knowledge workers to effectively analyze — be they hands-on analysts, data scientists, or senior execs. More often than not, traditional tabular reports fail to paint the whole picture or, even worse, lead you to the wrong conclusion. AD&D pros should be aware that data visualization can help for a variety of reasons:
  • Visual information is more powerful than any other type of sensory input. Dr. John Medina asserts that vision trumps all other senses when it comes to processing information; we are incredible at remembering pictures. Pictures are also more efficient than text alone because our brain considers each word to be a very small picture and thus takes more time to process text. When we hear a piece of information, we remember 10% of it three days later; if we add a picture, we remember 65% of it. There are multiple explanations for these phenomena, including the fact that 80% to 90% of information received by the brain comes through the eyes, and about half of your brain function is dedicated directly or indirectly to processing vision.
  • We can't see patterns in numbers alone . . . Simply seeing numbers on a grid doesn't always give us the whole story — and it can even lead us to draw the wrong conclusion. Anscombe's quartet demonstrates this effectively; four groups of seemingly similar x/y coordinates reveal very different patterns when represented in a graph.
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Amazon Web Services Pushes Enterprise And Hybrid Messages At re:Invent

Paul Miller

The hordes gathered in Las Vegas this week, for Amazon's latest re:Invent show. Over 18,000 individuals queued to get into sessions, jostled to reach the Oreo Cookie Popcorn (yes, really), and dodged casino-goers to hear from AWS, its partners and its customers. Las Vegas may figure nowhere on my list of favourite places, but the programme of Analyst sessions AWS laid on for earlier in the week definitely justified this trip.

The headline items (the Internet of Things, Business Intelligence, and a Snowball chucked straight at the 'hell' that is the enterprise data centre (think about it)) are much-discussed, but in many ways the more interesting stuff was AWS' continued - quiet, methodical, inexorable - improvement of its current offerings. One by one, enterprise 'reasons' to avoid AWS or its public cloud competitors are being systematically demolished.

Not headline-worthy, but important. And, as I and a number of my colleagues note in our Quick Take view on this week's show, AWS is most definitely turning up the heat. Frogs, we're told, don't know they're being boiled alive if you just turn up the heat slowly. CIOs, hopefully, are paying more attention to the warmth of AWS, all around them.

Forrester Quick Take: AWS QuickSight Will Disrupt Business Intelligence And Analytics Markets

Boris Evelson

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
  • Open APIs
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The Forrester Wave™: Agile Business Intelligence Platforms, Q3 2015

Boris Evelson

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.

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BI and data integration professionals face a multitude of overlapping data preparation options

Boris Evelson

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Data preparation features built right into BI platforms. Most leading BI vendors today provide such capabilities to a varying degree.
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