Gartner BI & Analytics Conference – Modern Architecture

In an excellent session this afternoon, we were taken on the journey towards best practice implementation of BI/Analytics architecture. For the last 2 years Gartner have recommended that the 3 key areas are represented by the Information Portal, Analytics Workbench and Data Science Laboratory. Highlighted in the rather shaky picture below:

3 Tiers BI Arc

Each tier will offer different benefits to the business that can be summarised by the key roles and processes that a modern architecture need to accommodate. These are summarised in the images  below:

ModernArcProcesses.jpg

ModernArcProcesses

Finally by following this you could end up with the holy grail, if this is your businesses holy grail:

modernarcoverview

It was interesting in this session how they talked around vendors and again reiterated that no one single tool OR vendor can deliver this whole picture. However, they also pointed out that the magic quadrants should not be looked at in isolation as niche and smaller vendors that are in the lower left or not even quite on the board may well suit your businesses needs really well. Understanding your business needs, values and potential outcomes AGAIN seems the ultimate place to “bet your house” when it comes to delivering a successful BI/Analytics program. I would also quote Neil Chandler for businesses just venturing out into BI in that this will be a core competency of your business going forward and require “indefinite investment”. Don’t let this scare the financiers but do make sure people realise that the delivery of the information portal or a specific tool to do data discovery is not the end of the BI/Analytics journey. I much prefer Bibby’s Lead Architect, Richard Smith’s comments around this which has our internal program focussed on creating “an enduring BI capability” to be enduring you must react to change, within the business and within the marketplace.

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Gartner BI & Analytics Summit London – Day 1

What a great day, very exciting and lots learnt from industry experts, with very little bias towards a vendor or specific technology. This post will form the first of two which is my attempt to mind dump some of the key takeaways I have picked up and found useful here at the conference.

BICC – Business Intelligence Competency Centre

Is dead… long live the ACE – Analytics Community of Excellence. In the keynote Neil Chandler suggested four things wrong with the BICC, business, intelligence, competency and centre! Although it is still the driver behind successful, versus non-successful, BI programs it is not encompassing enough of the modern world of BI and Analytics. Key benefits of this approach is an attempt to drive BI programs from business outcomes but mostly it fails and still becomes an efficiency drive, not linked to delivering actual business value. It also does not encompass a new wave of change in the business, self-service, which is near impossible to centrally manage. Finally it has not been driven around the new future of analytical applications which are focussed around algorithms and a scientific approach to running of businesses, and our lives!

Whilst there is a lot in words the evolution from BICC to ACE is not just about words it is about evolving and improving a good concept and bringing it up-to-date and inline with business needs. Analytics now seems to embrace BI and gives us a larger maturity scale for businesses in our ever changing world. Community takes away the need to centrally control and helps with the, already in-place, self-service. Finally excellence is about striving towards something we perceive as the ultimate goal, not just a list of competencies that are based around technology.

One thing that hasn’t changed but cannot be ignored is that you MUST FOCUS around BUSINESS OUTCOMES to achieve excellence in your BI or Analytics program.

Algortithms are KEY

An important key theme for the keynote centred around algorithms and their use in BI and Analytics as well as in day to day life. Guessing which classical piece of music was generated by a computer or Bach highlighted how compute power and science has progressed and there is a real feeling from Gartner that through the use of algorithms and the tools that support them we can automate, improve and gain valuable insight into our businesses. Algorithms are used all over your business today, take some time to document them and look to find tooling to support their automation and improvement. Citizen data science communities may spring up around this.

Other key notes:

  • IoT algorithms are set to generate $15 billion by 2018
  • Over half of organisations will be leveraging algorithms by 2018
  • By 2020 50% of Analytics leaders will be able to link their programs to real business value.
  • The best analytics leaders can formulate new questions as well as answer existing business ones. They also fail, learn and push the envelope; I would add they fail fast, time is gone for multi-year BI programs.
  • Data Management and Data Integration tools are converging, but not as fast as you may imagine.
  • BI and Analytics tools are also converging but it was noted NO one vendor can support all BI and Analytics needs and the buyers of each are currently different.
  • Quadrant analysts highlight IBM’s Watson Analytics as a good example of an analytical application.
  • Microsoft’s Power BI v1 (that horrible O365, SharePoint online linked tool) failed, but v2 has gained traction and is having a negative impact on Tableau’s performance.

Still a lot of learning to go, even on day 1 but I wanted to share this for those not fortunate enough to attend this amazing event!