Pervasive Analytics Revisited

A new study suggests that one key to driving analytic uptake is to put analytic technologies into the hands (or at the fingertips) of more users.

At TDWI’s recent Summer World Conference in San Diego, Michael Corcoran, vice president of marketing with business intelligence (BI) stalwart Information Builders Inc. (IBI) made a provocative claim: users, Corcoran said, are hungry for more and greater analytic responsibility.

A new study from market watcher International Data Corp. (IDC) suggests that IBI and Corcoran might be on to something.

IDC suggests that one key to driving analytic uptake is to put analytic technologies into the hands (or at the fingertips) of more users. "After three decades of existence, the business analytics market is finally reaching the mainstream market and gaining status as a formal management discipline," said Dan Vesset, program vice president for IDC's Business Analytics Solutions research, in a statement.

"As the benefits of business analytics become better known, especially among executives, the demand for a wider range of solutions and services will create new opportunities and drive the market to new heights."

Corcoran suggested that business users -- from high-powered execs down to knowledge workers -- are rapidly becoming analytic habitués. "[T]he average person is using technology and information at home more than they ever have. [Twenty] years ago, people learned about information technology at work and then started bringing it home," he argues. "Today, people are learning at home and bringing information technology into work. People are becoming more analytical over time. If something interests [them], they're going to go out on the Internet and see what's available. They're going to look at comparatives: reviews, blog entries, forums, other things. Now more than ever before, they have the ability to make informed decisions."

To a degree, IDC’s research bears out this claim.

In the past, the analyst firm indicates, analytic case studies lacked a certain kind of cachet. Nowadays, users are hearing more and better stories about the uses or benefits of analytic technologies, thanks largely to Big Data use cases that involve social networking sites, prominent search engines, and federal intelligence agencies.

Corcoran, for example, used the example of blogging, which -- though it isn’t an explicit analytic activity -- nonetheless provides a context in which contributors can test claims, gain insights, and (ultimately) make informed decisions.

IDC points to a conceptual shift -- away from considerations of data or content as the be-all and end-all of analytic activity and toward an emphasis on informed (i.e., data- and content-driven) decision-making.

“The lessons learned from the past two decades are that end users will never be able to fully predict their data needs nor will the technologies be able to pre-build data models that will satisfy end users,” IDC said in a prepared statement. “Understanding decision processes will, however, enable a closer collaborative relationship between IT and business and enable the development of more flexible systems that take into account ways in which end users make decisions.”

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a technology writer with 20 years of experience. His writing has focused on business intelligence, data warehousing, and analytics for almost 15 years. Swoyer has an abiding interest in tech, but he’s particularly intrigued by the thorny people and process problems technology vendors never, ever want to talk about. You can contact him at