The topic for our recent Bistech User Group (B.U.G) was “Advanced Analytics – The New World Order of Modern Analytics” and while there is without a doubt a degree of Vendor hype around this area, the reality is that businesses are embracing new and evolving Analytics methods and technologies associated with advanced statistical analysis and machine learning. I like Gartner’s description of Advanced Analytics…
“the autonomous or semi-autonomous examination of data or content using sophisticated techniques and tools, typically beyond those of traditional business intelligence (BI), to discover deeper insights, make predictions, or generate recommendations. Advanced analytic techniques include those such as data/text mining, machine learning, pattern matching, forecasting, visualization, semantic analysis, sentiment analysis, network and cluster analysis, multivariate statistics, graph analysis, simulation, complex event processing, neural networks.”
This IS the next evolution in our industry… it is moving beyond the way we do things currently, it is no different from when we started moving off wired networks and embracing wireless networks, it is a progression not only made possible by advances in technology but by a mind shift in terms of what is possible and what we would like to do with the rich volumes of data that we continue to accumulate. AND the proof of this can be seen in the creation of new job titles, such as Business Insight Manager and the well adopted Data Scientist.
So what has been the key technology enabler in this case? Well in fact it has very much been a convergence of 3 key disruptive technologies pertaining to Big Data, Cloud and Machine Learning – all of which are merging to make Advanced Analytics the reality that it is today.
No longer are the data sets that we want to interrogate limited to transaction based “system of record” information collected by our ERP systems, it has broadened to all data sets that interrelate with our business and/or our customers. Be it information collected from connected devices, data from spatial location readers, sentiment data from social media sites – a broad and diverse cross section of data is being collected, stored and mined to provide insight. Interestingly, these accumulating data sets are spawning the emergence of an “API economy” where businesses are starting to understand the value and commercial opportunity associated with their own rich data sets and seizing the opportunity to create new revenue streams by providing access to this data through open API’s (…a subject for another day).
Whether by accident or intent, Cloud is making Advanced Analytics possible for the key reason that it makes it AFFORDABLE! The cost to purchase sufficient computing power to process the massive volumes of data as noted above, is extremely expensive if you we were seeking to undertake this process in-house. Purchasing massively parallel servers to handle multi-threaded processing of enormous data sets would require significant investment and this investment would need to continue to grow as more data is added and as more applications and uses of the data are found. Cloud providers are providing platforms that are embracing Advanced Analytics and offering various elastic workloads for various applications that can be “spun up and spun down” as needed at a fraction of the price that would otherwise be required for an on-premise deployment.
The type-writer frames a point in time where technology helped to truly disrupt an industry and offered a better way (or you may argue, a different way) of doing things. The legacy of the type-writer lives on with the keyboard I am tapping on and has been evolutionary in guiding us down the path of machine learning. Creating a machine that could “understand” the human alphabet, and make it possible to create communication with other human beings in a whole new way opened up numerous commercial and social opportunities. The modern era of machine learning shifts the paradigm of the humble type-writer and uses Artificial Intelligence to enable us to ask computers questions using natural language and have them interpreting and predicting possible outcomes. Apply this capability across your Big Data sets residing in the Cloud and you begin to understand why Advanced Analytics is becoming the New World Order of Modern Analytics!