Leveraging openness to supercharge your analytics

Program Director, Analytics Platform Marketing, IBM

When I’m in an unfamiliar place and need more help than GPS can give me, little is more comforting than a sign reading “Come in—we’re open.” It’s a sign of welcome suggesting that I will get answers to my questions, allowing me to get on with my business at hand.

In familiar territory, an “Open” sign is equally welcome. It means that I can buy antibiotic cream to treat a minor injury—or Meyer lemons to prepare Moroccan chicken for my dinner guests. It means that I can buy a card in time for an important birthday. And it means that I can squeeze in one more swim before the end of a rapidly fading summer. geopolitically, we prefer governments that are “open” and transparent to “closed” governments that preserve secrecy among an elite few, sharing little information with the masses. Put simply, openness is a virtue in every part of life.

Boosting productivity through openness

The movement toward technological openness began decades ago, when individual developers learned that they could boost their productivity by sharing ideas and tools with each other. Over the years, not only developers but also technology and business leaders have come to appreciate openness. Why? Because openness doesn’t merely simplify the lives of individual developers. It also improves productivity and accelerates innovations that are important to business.

IBM’s commitment to openness is no secret. For example, IBM recently announced developerWorks Open, a community for sharing innovative code, documentation and supporting material from IBM software development labs. Moreover, the IBM commitment to Apache Spark includes using Spark in IBM offerings, deploying 3,500 IBM researchers and developers to work on Spark-related projects, donating IBM SystemML machine learning technology to the open ecosystem and teaching 1 million data scientists and engineers how to use Spark.

But what does all this mean for analytics? Specifically, how does it make a difference to organizations that are building out their own analytics environments? As analytics capabilities evolve rapidly to satisfy organizations’ hunger to understand the data associated with their business, significant advantage can be had by building on a technology platform that already includes market-leading breadth and depth of capabilities that offer everything from look-back reporting to look-forward predictive and prescriptive analytics. And that’s not even including the ability to tap into the innovations that are emerging from the open community.

Leveraging openness in analytics

An analytics platform can be supercharged by combining top-flight built-in capabilities with an openness to both interoperating with existing components of an organization’s architecture and blending in new technologies from new sources. Indeed, such a combination can help organizations leverage their investments and move quickly to address issues as they arise and offer capabilities as they are demanded.

Built-in capabilities should include analytics to support thinking and decision making, from historical analysis and strategic planning to instant reaction to the flood of machine data created by the Internet of Things—and everything in between. And, equally important, such analytics capabilities must be built on a sound basis of data and content management in conjunction with integration and governance of data, thus ensuring that the data being analyzed is worthy of trust, lest the total value of the analytics be lost.

Openness puts a top-flight analytics platform on the fast track to the future, allowing incorporation of the latest innovations from a wide community of contributors without delay. For example, the Open Data Platform initiative, of which IBM is a founding member, makes just this practical by defining, testing and scoring a stable base against which new solutions can be qualified.

Rich capabilities, a hybrid and fluid architecture and openness sum up the IBM Analytics platform, whose “open for business” sign is a symbol not only of welcome, but also of productivity and innovation.