Automating Business Analytics

Automating Business Analytics – Only 30% of potential users in an organization adopt CIO-sponsored analytics tools according to a recent Gartner user survey*. This figure coincides with data gathered from the Intrafocus business scorecard survey* which found that around 30% of the respondents use dedicated software products to manage business scorecards. (The rest use spreadsheets or free-form documents).

Both surveys agreed that there seems to be a shift upwards in what Gartner describes the ‘glass-ceiling’ of usage. Rita Sallam, the author of the Gartner reports says:

“I think we are finally at an inflection point for expanding adoption beyond the 30% glass ceiling because, for one, users are demanding, and vendors are delivering, easier to use tools for doing a broader range of analysis similar to what they have access to in their personal lives. The huge momentum and subsequent main-streaming of data discovery tools is an example of that.”

From a business scorecard perspective, an area that is dominated by spreadsheets, it is encouraging to see the emergence of software use for this activity. With cost affordable software and the increasing use of Cloud based solutions it would seem that moving to dedicated business performance management software is a good strategy. It certainly provides a better, centralised view of the business and gives company executives the means to allocate responsibility for business objectives and KPIs.

Gartner sees three major trends for 2013 that suggest an increased use of software for analytical purposes:

1. To make analytics more actionable and pervasively deployed, BI and analytics professionals must make analytics more invisible and transparent to their users.

In other words: Move the job of analysis away from specialists who need to understand the intricacies of the tools they are using to analyse data. Place the analytic power into the hands of the end user. This will of course require that the tools become more intuitive, user friendly and use a language that a business user recognises

2. The growing volume of real-time data and the reduced time for decision making are driving companies to implement real-time operational intelligence systems that make supervisors and operations staff more effective.

In other words: Make sure that relevant data is delivered to decision makers. Big-Data has brought with it the fascination of being able to analyse virtually all of the event data available to human recipients. This includes news-feeds, e-mails, tweets and a whole host of unstructured data. Some of this is relevant; automating the analysis to provide the key data is required.

3. Increasing competition, cost and regulatory pressures will motivate business leaders to adopt more prescriptive analytics, making business decisions smarter and more repeatable.

In other words: There are some areas of business, especially regulatory, where decisions can be based on pre-defined rules and therefore free up time for executives to think about strategy and actions that computers cannot support. Care has to be taken here to ensure that these ‘automated rules’ are bullet proof!

* More details can be found in the Gartner survey, “Actionable Analytics Will Be Driven by Mobile, Social and Big Data Forces in 2013 and Beyond”.

* For more details from the Intrafocus survey “The Balanced Scorecard Annual Survey