Business Analytics? Business is the operative word…

By Jim Salter - December 18, 2015

Business Analytics?   Business is the operative word…

Why is it that many executives, and perhaps you, have not yet embraced big data analytics?

As a company that’s knee-deep in discussions everyday about how companies are managing the 3 Vs in data and especially how they can leverage it, this question puzzled my colleagues and me.  We struggled to understand how many people aren’t embracing what can provide such huge business impact.

Our assumption was they were worried about costs, infrastructure, security, integration or maybe talent.  But with the technologies readily available now, most of those things aren’t really a major issue (other than talent with experience).  Many of the hottest big data, high-volume, high-speed products out there are open source or a supported version of open source – Cloudera, MapR, HortonWorks, Spark (Databricks), Cassandra (DataStax), Hive, SOLR, and more.

We decided to ask people that we thought should be considering big data, but haven’t done it yet.  Over the last month, we posed that question to dozens of executives we spoke with.  What we found initially surprised me personally, but soon realized it made total sense.  Most didn’t initially even consider things like cost, software, infrastructure, etc.  In fact few even talked about those things.  Virtually all of them talked about business value; a distant second was having experienced people to do it.

It reminded us all how easy it is for us close to technology and technology solutions to lose the forest through the trees.  The fact is most executives don’t care about new technology solutions – unless it can help them.  “Wait a month and somebody will have something better…” is something we hear often.  Further, many consider it daunting because big data projects often integrate with critical enterprise systems like SAP, Oracle, Infor, etc.

Almost all of them shared that solutions they think will create business value are worth the hassle.  “Seems everybody is pitching their product or service – few focus on WHY and the HOW it affects me.”

 If my small and unscientific sampling said anything, it was that we need to do a better job at painting that picture for the average executive.

And so it goes with business analytics.  I’ve begun to start sentences conversations with “Imagine if you could……how would that impact the business?”  That has resonated far better, and led to conversations about how organizations take small steps towards Business Analytics, with very little expense and realize immediate ROI.

Note:  in my mind, business analytics is a term that encompasses a variety of data solutions that impact the business:  data engineering, data science, big data, machine learning, predictive analytics, data warehousing, etc.