Monday 23 March 2015
Business analytics and business intelligence – both are terms that have previously been coined by someone, somewhere, at some time.
According to Gartner’s IT glossary, business analytics is:
“comprised of solutions used to build analysis models and simulations to create scenarios, understand realities and predict future states. Business analytics includes data mining, predictive analytics, applied analytics and statistics, and is delivered as an application suitable for a business user. These analytics solutions often come with prebuilt industry content that is targeted at an industry business process (for example, claims, underwriting or a specific regulatory requirement).”
But what if your product doesn’t fit these pre-made moulds?
The terms business analytics and business intelligence, whilst useful in explaining analytical solutions to consumers, seem slow and resistant to adapt in order to keep up with the pace of innovation – especially when looking at 2015’s forecasted business intelligence trends.
Innovations such as big data and data discovery have gathered traction in recent years but have been around a lot longer.
Gartner, although initially slow to react to these innovations have now expanded their business analytics/business intelligence qualification criteria in order to include them in their latest Magic Quadrant report.
One of the new additions in the report interested me – the term “search-based data discovery”. As search technology geeks we are constantly on the lookout for references to search technology within the business intelligence community!
Having not heard of this term before and with my curiosity getting the better of me I thought that I’d take a look at Gartner’s IT glossary to discover its definition…
Gartner explains that search-based data discovery tools:
“enable users to develop and refine views and analyses of structured and unstructured data using search terms. Like visualization-based data discovery tools, they have three attributes: (1) a proprietary data structure to store and model data gathered from disparate sources, which minimizes reliance on predefined business intelligence (BI) metadata; (2) a built-in performance layer using RAM or indexing that lessens the need for aggregates, summaries and pre-calculations; and (3) an intuitive interface, enabling users to explore data without much training. However, as well as having a broader scope (visualization-driven data discovery tools focus exclusively on quantitative data) they differ at the user interface layer, with search-based data discovery tools using text search input and results to guide users to the information they need.”
The definition though well explained, is a bit of a mouthful, isn’t it?
Using our solution CXAIR as an example, the search-based data discovery definition is very closely aligned in terms of the way the backend architecture of CXAIR works. Yet if we were to describe CXAIR as a search-based data discovery solution it would sell the solution short.
There is no mention of the advanced statistical analysis capabilities or predictive analysis/forecasting outputs that can be created within CXAIR.
For this reason I suggest combining the search-based data discovery definition with the business analytics definition. Let’s call it search-powered business analytics.
Search-powered business analytics would describe a solution that provides all of the advanced statistical and predictive analysis functionality as business analytics but with the added speed, responsiveness, enhanced visualisations and intuitive user interface that search-based data discovery tools offer.
In other words – it combines the best of both worlds.
Speaking of which (slight subject change – stay with me!), in the automotive industry, BMW’s latest innovation – the i8 was released in mid-2014.
It utilises two engines – a 1.5 litre turbocharged petrol engine taken from the Mini that powers the rear wheels and a plug-in electric engine that powers the front wheels to deliver an all-wheel drive vehicle with the combined power equivalent of a Porsche 911.
In terms of the economy specs, officially it is the most economical car that is currently in production according to the EU fuel economy test… In reality though, that’s not the case.
Having said that, drivers would still easily be able to achieve over 40mpg – a significant achievement for a car that boasts the same amount of power output as a Porsche 911.
The car represents the next step in hybrid fuel technology.
And like the BMW i8, search powered business analytics represents the best of where we are going and business analytics/business intelligence represents the best of where we have come from.