Business Intelligence for Everyone
“In the next five years, we’ll generate more data as humankind than we generated in the previous 5,000” - Eron Kelly, 20121
“Big data,” has been a technological buzzword for nearly a decade now. Its importance has grown with the significance of the phenomenon it describes - the abundance of information so great it cannot be processed by traditional databases. Even so, the full effect of Big Data has yet to be felt. According to IDC, the amount of new data created annually will grow ten-fold between now and 2020.2
Companies proficient with the tools and processes necessary to understand vast amounts of data have a powerful competitive advantage. MIT researchers determined that companies which excel in data-driven decision making are, on average, 5% more productive and 6% more profitable than their competitors.3 A University of Texas at Austin study found that, for the median Fortune 1000 company, a 10% increase in the usability of its data translated to $2.01 billion in annual revenues.4 Those numbers are impressive!
The value of Big Data is realized through business intelligence analysis, a rapidly burgeoning field. (Gartner estimates that the worldwide business intelligence and analytics market was $14.4 billion in 2013, growing 8% annually.5) Amidst all this phenomenal growth, however, many businesses and organizations which should be benefiting from industry advances are being left behind. While many of Green River’s clients have, for example, already purchased modern BI tools6, they’ve discovered they are not able to utilize them as effectively as originally hoped. For one, the underlying data available can be complex. Even with powerful BI software, familiarity with data structure concepts and analytical techniques is often required to extract useful results. Second, BI software itself is complex. By definition, a BI application is a powerful tool that can be applied in many contexts. To be useful, then, not only does someone using it need to know what questions to ask, but also how to apply the powerful analytics available to the datasets available.
The reality then is leaders must rely on data scientists, in or outside of their organizations, to find the answers BI promised. In this inefficient translation, something is inevitably lost. Ultimately, in the tradeoff between providing the flexibility to ask any question, and the ease and elegance of getting a clear answer, modern BI tools are getting it wrong. We at Green River see the need for straightforward, elegant interfaces non-technical staff can use to leverage the power of their data. These interfaces might be less flexible overall, but ultimately are more powerful within an organization’s domain: a toolset tailored to the questions you want to ask.
4 http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20101115005542/en/Sybase-University-Texas-Study-Quantifies-Impacts-Effective#.VfnF2SBVhBc; http://www.datascienceassn.org/sites/default/files/Measuring%20Business%20Impacts%20of%20Effective%20Data%20I.pdf
6 There is a diverse range of tools designed to harness Big Data. Large companies like SAP, Oracle, IBM, SAS, Microsoft, and Teradata have a very visible market share; a handful of smaller companies, such as Domo, GoodData, and Tableau, specialize in the field.