Business agility and the transformative promise of the true analytics platform

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Big Data Evangelist, IBM

Agility distinguishes the analytics-driven organization from those who haven’t harnessed the transformative power of data. What is agility, and what sort of analytics platform is well suited for organizations who want to retool their business operations and strategic focus around this pivotal resource? In other words, what’s the best practice for acquiring, building and evolving analytics, data management and performance management investments?

Adapting to the dynamics of a competitive climate is a business vision. It’s all about speed of response and the flexibility to turn on the proverbial dime in any new direction required for the business. It’s the ability to operate at any scale, speed or scope of business that planning and circumstances may require. An analytics platform needs to be agile so that an organization can continue to adapt to an ever-changing competitive climate. This vision of a true analytics platform is an enterprise resource that offers several features:

  • Agility: The platform drives a cohesive analytics-infused business culture, thereby enabling agile responses to changing circumstances and improving every decision, process and operation. It can scale to allow users across all business functions to explore ideas, test hypotheses and succeed or fail quickly and independently.
  • Connectivity: The platform provides an interconnected and governed resource for supporting diverse, self-service analytics. It can work with any type or combination of data and analytics that is essential to collaboration.
  • Intelligence: The platform supports any type of analytics— cognitive, descriptive, predictive or prescriptive—that a business requires to seize opportunities, operate efficiently and mitigate competitive threats. It guides users to the right answers, helping them ask the right questions. And it can recommend the best way to present the insights or build a report or model.
  • Mobility: The platform provides self-service analytics for the full range of user mobility, delivering a unified experience across diverse mobile devices. It enables mobile users to derive insights anywhere and anytime from the same core data, reports and models.
  • Trust: The platform delivers confidence in insights derived from the best data, well-suited models and other key assets for the solution domain in question. It helps ensure comprehensive lifecycle data lineage, security and quality.

The potential of true analytics platforms in today’s insight economy is considerable. These platforms enable business analytics, operational users and other knowledge workers to tap into an abundance of data to make enhanced decisions and choices. In the insight economy, organizations do not need to choose analytics agility at the expense of a centralized analytics approach.

In addition, the true analytics platform instills confidence by providing the intelligence to guide users to the right data-driven answers to their queries. For example, such a platform recommends the way that is well suited to present the insights in a dashboard, report or other visualization. It also needs to have the smarts to tailor the user experience dynamically so that users get what they’re looking for without delay or confusion. This dynamic experience is the power of agility in the life of the knowledge worker in today’s insight economy.

The true analytics platform should also fully support anywhere, anytime access by mobile users, so that the optimized decisions one makes from a smartphone, tablet or other mobile device tap into the same core data, reports and models users can gain on a fixed access connection using a personal computer or standard browser.

Collaborating to support data-driven decisions

Furthermore, the true analytics platform should provide an agile, collaborative environment for connecting team members, functional groups and business partners. To enable effective collaboration around common data, analytics and visualizations, it should enable dispersed teams to make data-driven decisions. And it needs to communicate those decisions to key stakeholders without delay and with a comprehensive audit trail of guided analytics to document the basis for decisions and actions.

Of course, the true analytics platform requires true—that is, relevant, trusted, high-quality—data to drive confidence in the validity of the decision support being provided. Confidence in the data and the insights is critical. Analytics can only drive the best decisions when built on the best data, best models and other key assets for the solution domain in question. Data lineage, security and data quality are paramount considerations in the insight economy.

Just as important, the true analytics platform is one that enables you to operationalize your analytics throughout both customer-facing and internal business processes. This operationalization typically takes the form of such capabilities as production reporting, decision automation and next-best-action recommendations at the point of impact. All these examples have contributed to advancing an analytics culture and success across various organizations.

Measuring analytics maturity

How prevalent is the true analytics platform in today’s business world? And, if it’s widespread, are organizations leveraging this resource effectively to gain agility? One useful barometer is the extent to which organizations are not only acquiring and implementing such platforms in their operations, but also implementing best practices to maximize the value of those platforms to the business. In other words, a key indicator is analytics maturity.

Sadly, analytics maturity seems to be declining in the business world. The platform can’t deliver magic if organizational cultures—from the top down—aren’t ready to tap into the full potential of a true analytics platform and the data-driven insights it can provide.

Check out this recent AnalyticsZone blog by Roberta Wakerell that discusses this same topic. In addition, register for the upcoming IBM webinar on self-service analytics to learn more about how the IBM analytics platform supports agility. Further, experience the power of a true analytics platform, and be sure to register for Insight 2015, the premier forum for the insight economy.