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Cloud-based computing has become widespread, particularly in line-of-business applications from vendors such as Salesforce and SuccessFactors. Our benchmark research also suggests a rise in the acceptance of cloud-based analytics.  We’ve seen the emergence and growth of cloud-only analytics vendors such as Domo and GoodData as well as cloud-based delivery by nearly all the on-premises analytics vendors. Almost half (48%) of organizations in vr_DAC_04_widespread_use_of_cloud_based_analyticsour benchmark research on data and analytics in the cloud are using cloud-based analytics today, and two-thirds said they expect to be using cloud-based analytics within 12 months. In fact, only 1 percent said they do not intend to use cloud-based analytics at some point. This popularity leads to the question of how to maximize the value of investments in cloud-based analytics. We assert that one of the most important best practices for cloud-based analytics is to empower business users with modern analytics tools they can work with without relying on IT.

Part of the premise of cloud computing in general is to reduce reliance on in-house IT. Line-of-business groups are drawn to the cloud because it enables them to concentrate on the business at hand. They don’t have to wait for IT to set up systems and often can purchase cloud-based services without a capital requisition process. Not only do users want this independence, but cloud-based systems benefit IT, too, by reducing the administrative burden – there’s no need to acquire, install and configure hardware and the associated software. They also help reduce ongoing maintenance since some of that is the responsibility of the cloud application provider.

Cloud-based analytics have benefits that go beyond reducing the administration burden. Organizations in our research most often ranked first or second improved communication and knowledge sharing (39%), improved efficiency in business processes (35%) and decreased time to market (24%). In the context of cloud-based applications of any type, these findings should not come as a surprise. These systems enable access to data from any device in any location. Ready access to information should improve communication, efficiency and consistency. Workers can review and share information as they are performing their jobs in the field, on the shop floor, in the warehouse or when meeting with customers. In addition, more than half (52%) of organizations reported improved data quality and data management as a benefit.

For these and other reasons users want to be self-sufficient. Usability is consistently the most important software evaluation criterion in our various benchmark research studies. vr_DAC_22_self-service_for_cloud--based_analyticsIn the data and analytics in the cloud research, usability was the highest-ranked of seven evaluation criterion: Almost two-thirds (63%) of participants said it is very important.

However, the research also finds that most users do not access their cloud-based analytics without the help of IT. Only 40 percent said they are able to analyze their data by themselves. Is this important? If we look at the results organizations are able to achieve, the answer is yes. Those that operate without IT are both more confident (77% vs. 44%) and more often satisfied (71% vs. 55%) in their ability to use cloud-based analytics than those that do not.

As our research shows, the advent of cloud-based analytics is here. Empowering business users makes it possible to improve business outcomes. The IT organization will be free to focus its attention on critical issues only it can address. Thus modern tools for cloud-based analytics can benefit both the lines of business and IT.


David Menninger

SVP & Research Director

Follow Me on Twitter @dmenningerVR and Connect with me on LinkedIn.

For most people involved with business intelligence (BI), these are exciting times. Using BI to improve business processes continues to motivate organizations to invest in BI. The focus on BI also empowers business analytics and can be rented in the cloud computing model of accessing software. New technologies are adding dimensions to BI and creating both excitement and confusion for enterprises implementing them. We offer a variety of accomplished research that can help organizations overcome the hype and understand how to use these technologies to improve business decision-making, and we’re planning new research in 2012 on these topics.

Big data continues to be one of hottest topics in the market. Every vendor wants to claim it has a solution for managing it. Multiple approaches exist to tackle the proliferation of huge volumes of data at accelerated paces, which we addressed recently in our Big Data benchmark research. We also see the pace of business forcing organizations to analyze data more frequently; one-fourth of research participants now analyze data hourly or even more often. In 2012 we will continue our research by exploring specific vendor offerings in big-data analytics. We’ll also be conducting new benchmark research into operational intelligence to explore how streaming data and event-based data impact organizations.

The march to add mobile capabilities across smart-phones and tablets to business intelligence is becoming a stampede. Nearly every vendor I cover has added such capabilities or significantly enhanced those it already has. However, questions remain on the best ways to utilize mobile capabilities and which parts of the organization really need them. Our upcoming Next-Generation BI benchmark research will look at how businesses are utilizing mobile BI or intend to. In addition, it will examine how collaborative technologies are influencing BI processes and organizational decision-making. We’ve already seen the consumerization of collaborative BI. This research will explore how well businesses understand the intersection of collaborative technologies and social media with BI. Vendors such as QlikTechTibco Spotfire and Yellowfin recently enhanced their products with collaborative capabilities joining others like IBM and SAP who have advanced in collaboration capabilities with BI. As you consider your organization’s requirements, the best practices identified in this research will help you plan to incorporate these capabilities into your business processes.

We also continue to explore the role of analytics, closely associated with BI. Next week we will share the results of our Predictive Analytics benchmark research Our published business analytics research shows only one-quarter of organizations using planning and forecasting and only 13 percent using predictive analytics. Yet nearly 80 percent said both of these capabilities are important or very important. Organizations need to address that gap to enhance their business decision-making abilities.

Because business intelligence also is closely entwined with information management, I encourage you to review our Information Management research agenda as well. Almost one-third of organizations have more than 10 sources of data they have to integrate, and more than two-thirds spend more time preparing data than analyzing it. Without addressing these issues, no organization is likely to realize the full potential of business intelligence.

Business intelligence continues to be a strategic business imperative. Our research will deliver education and best practices that can help you reduce the costs, time and risk of making the wrong choices or being uninformed of this strategic imperative.


David Menninger – VP & Research Director

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