Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Nicole Bryan, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Greg Schulz

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, Cloud Security, @BigDataExpo, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: Article

The Intelligence Inside: Cloud Developers Change the World of Analytics

Evidence is mounting that embedding analytics inside apps business people use every day can lead to quantifiable benefits

Slide Deck from Karl Van den Bergh's Cloud Expo Presentation: The Intelligence Inside: How Developers of Cloud Apps Will Change the World of Analytics

We live in a world that requires us to compete on our differential use of time and information, yet only a fraction of information workers today have access to the analytical capabilities they need to make better decisions. Now, with the advent of a new generation of embedded business intelligence (BI) platforms, cloud developers are disrupting the world of analytics. They are using these new BI platforms to inject more intelligence into the applications business people use every day. As a result, data-driven decision-making is finally on track to become the rule, not the exception.

The Increased Focus on Analytics
With the emphasis on data-driven decision-making, it is perhaps not a surprise that the focus on analytics continues to mount. According to IDC's Dan Vesset, 2013 was poised to be the first year that the market for data-driven decision making enabled by business analytics broke through the $100 billion mark. IT executives are also doubling-down on analytics, a fact highlighted by Gartner's annual CIO survey which has put analytics as the number one technology priority three times out of the last five years. So, given the importance and spend on analytics, everyone should have access to the insight they need, right?

Most Business People Still Don't Use Analytics
Amazingly, in spite of spending growth and focus, most information workers today do not have access to business intelligence. In fact, Cindi Howson of BI Scorecard has found that end-user adoption of BI seems to have stagnated at about 25%. This stagnation is difficult to reconcile. How is it possible that, at best, one quarter of information workers have access to what is arguably most critical to their success in a world that runs on data?

There are a variety of reasons for stagnant end-user adoption, including the high costs associated with BI projects and an overall lack of usability. However, the biggest impediment to BI adoption has nothing to do with the technology. The reality is that the vast majority of business decision makers do not spend their day working in a BI tool - nor do they want to. Users already have their preferred tool or application: sales representatives use a CRM service; marketers use a campaign management or marketing automation platform; back-office workers will spend a lot of their day in an ERP application; executives will typically work with their preferred productivity suite, and the list goes on. Unless you are a data analyst, you are not going to want to spend much of your day using a BI tool. But, just because business people prefer not to use a BI tool does not mean they don't want access to pertinent data to bolster better decision-making.

The Need for More Intelligence Inside Applications
What's the solution? Simply put, bring the data TO users inside their preferred applications instead of expecting them to go to a separate BI system to find the report, dashboard or visualization that's relevant to the question at hand. If we want to reach the other 75% of business people who don't have access to a standalone BI product, we have to inject intelligence inside the applications and services they use every day. It is only through more intelligent applications that organizations can benefit from broader data-driven decision-making. In fact, according to Gartner, BI will only become pervasive when it essentially becomes "invisible" to business people as part of the applications they use daily. In a 2013 report highlighting key emerging tech trends, Gartner concludes that in order "to make analytics more actionable and pervasively deployed, BI and analytics professionals must make analytics more invisible and transparent to their users." How? The report explains this will happen "through embedded analytic applications at the point of decision or action."

If the solution to pervasive BI is to deliver greater intelligence inside applications, why don't more applications embed analytics? The reality is that only a small fraction of applications built today have embedded intelligence. Sure, they might have a table or a chart but there is no intelligent engine; users typically can't personalize a report or dashboard or self-serve to generate new visualizations on an ad-hoc basis. The culprit here is that business intelligence was originally intended as a standalone activity, not one that was designed to be embeddable. Specifically, the reasons driving developers to ignore BI platforms boil down to cost and complexity.

Cost and Complexity Are Barriers to Embedded BI
Traditionally, BI tools have carried a user-based licensing model. Licenses typically cost from the tens of thousands to millions of dollars. Such high per-user costs might be justified for a relatively small, predictably-sized population that includes a large percentage of power users who will spend a good amount of time working with the BI tool. This user-based model, however, is totally unsuitable for the embedded use case. The embedded use case is geared toward business users who will access the BI features less frequently and likely have less analytics experience than the traditional power user - in this scenario, high per-user costs simply can't be justified.

BI products are complex on a number of different levels. First, they are complex to deploy, often requiring months if not years to roll out to any reasonable number of users. Second, they are complex to use, both for the developers building the reports and dashboards as well as the business people interacting with the tool. Third, they are complex to embed. Designed as standalone products, BI tools are not architected to plug into another application.

Given the cost and complexity of traditional standalone BI offerings, it is no surprise that developers often turn to charting libraries to deliver the visualizations within their application. The cost is low and they are relatively simple for a developer to embed. In the short term, a charting library is a reasonable solution, but over time falls flat. The demands for more charts, dashboards and reports quickly grow, and end users begin looking for the ability to self-serve and create their own visualizations. As a result of these mounting demands, many application developers find themselves essentially building a BI tool, taking them outside their core competency and stealing precious time away from advancing their own application.

Could a New Generation of Embedded BI Provide the Solution?
Fortunately, there is a new generation of embedded analytic platforms emerging that looks set to address these challenges of cost and complexity. Wayne Eckerson, a noted BI analyst, identifies this as the third generation of embedded analytics in his article on the Evolution of Embedded BI. In summary, Eckerson describes the third generation as "moving beyond the Web to the Cloud" where developers can "rent these Cloud-based BI tools by the hour." These BI platforms can "support a full range of BI functionality including data exploration and authoring" and can be embedded through standard interfaces like REST and JavaScript. So, how does this third-generation address the issues of cost and complexity?

Utility Pricing Dramatically Reduces Cost
To address the challenge of cost, a new generation of embedded analytics platforms employs a utility-based licensing model where the software is available on a per-core, per-hour or per-gigabyte basis. From a developer's perspective, this is a much fairer model, as one only pays for what is used. At the beginning of the application lifecycle when usage is sporadic, developers can limit their costs. As the application becomes successful and use grows, usage can be easily scaled up. A recent report by Nucleus Research concluded that utility pricing for analytics can save organizations up to 70% of what they would pay for a traditional BI solution. I've written previously about how utility pricing will dramatically increase the availability of analytics, reaching a much broader set of organizations. The rapid adoption of Amazon's Redshift data warehousing service and Jaspersoft's reporting and analytics service on the AWS Marketplace provides rich testimony to the benefits of this model.

Cloud and Web-Standard APIs Reduce Complexity
A cloud-based BI platform significantly simplifies deployment, as there is no BI server to install or configure. The Nucleus Research report found that the utility-priced, Cloud BI solutions could be deployed in weeks or even days as opposed to the months commonly required for a traditional BI product.

Leveraging web-standard APIs like REST and JavaScript, the third-generation platforms also simplify the task of embedding analytics both on the front-end and back-end of the application. Importantly, these APIs allow full-featured, self-service BI capabilities to be embedded, not just reports and dashboards. This means increased ability of the application to respond to the ad-hoc information requests of business users.

The Benefits of Embedded Intelligence
Intuitively, it would seem that, by providing analytics within the applications business people use every day, an organization should experience the benefits of more data-driven decision-making. But is there any proof?

A recent report by the Aberdeen Group, based on data from over 130 organizations, has helped shed light on some of the benefits of embedded analytics. First, as might be expected, those companies using embedded analytics saw 76% of users actively engaged in analytics versus only 11% for those with the lowest embedded BI adoption. As a result, 89% of the business people in these best-in-class companies were satisfied with their access to data versus only 21% in the industry laggards. The bottom line? Companies leading embedded BI adoption saw an average 19% increase in operating profit versus only 9% for the other companies.

Andre Gayle, who helps manage a voicemail service at British Telecom, illustrates the difference embedded analytics can make. "We had reports [before] but they had to be emailed to users, who had to wait for them, then dig through them as needed. It was inefficient and wasteful." Now, thanks to embedded analytics, British Telecom has seen a huge savings in time and cost. As Gayle explains, capacity planning for the voicemail service used to be a "laborious exercise, involving several days of effort to dig up the numbers " but now can be done "on demand, in a fact-based manner, in just a few minutes."

The evidence is mounting that embedding analytics inside the applications business people use every day can lead to quantifiable benefits. However, the protagonist here, unlike in the traditional world of analytics, must be the developer, not the analyst. A new generation of embedded BI platforms is making it easier and more cost effective for developers to deliver the analytical capabilities needed inside the Cloud applications they are building. As developers increasingly avail of these new platforms, we can hope that BI will finally become pervasive as an information service that informs day-to-day operations. As Wayne Eckerson puts it, "In many ways, embedded BI represents the fulfillment of BI's promise." Now it's up to Cloud developers to help us realize that promise.

More Stories By Karl Van den Bergh

Karl Van den Bergh is the Vice President of Product Strategy at Jaspersoft, where he is responsible for product strategy, product management and product marketing. Karl is a seasoned high-tech executive with 18 years experience in software, hardware, open source and SaaS businesses, both startup and established.

Prior to Jaspersoft, Karl was the Vice President of Marketing and Alliances at Kickfire, a venture-funded data warehouse appliance startup. He also spent seven years at Business Objects (now part of SAP), where he held progressively senior leadership positions in product marketing, product management, corporate development and strategy – ultimately becoming the General Manager of the Information-On-Demand business. Earlier in his career, he was responsible for EMEA marketing at ASG, one of the world’s largest privately-held software companies. Karl started his career as a software engineer.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
It's easy to assume that your app will run on a fast and reliable network. The reality for your app's users, though, is often a slow, unreliable network with spotty coverage. What happens when the network doesn't work, or when the device is in airplane mode? You get unhappy, frustrated users. An offline-first app is an app that works, without error, when there is no network connection. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Bradley Holt, a Developer Advocate with IBM Cloud Data Services, discussed...
There are several IoTs: the Industrial Internet, Consumer Wearables, Wearables and Healthcare, Supply Chains, and the movement toward Smart Grids, Cities, Regions, and Nations. There are competing communications standards every step of the way, a bewildering array of sensors and devices, and an entire world of competing data analytics platforms. To some this appears to be chaos. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate a...
Digital Initiatives create new ways of conducting business, which drive the need for increasingly advanced security and regulatory compliance challenges with exponentially more damaging consequences. In the BMC and Forbes Insights Survey in 2016, 97% of executives said they expect a rise in data breach attempts in the next 12 months. Sixty percent said operations and security teams have only a general understanding of each other’s requirements, resulting in a “SecOps gap” leaving organizations u...
SaaS companies can greatly expand revenue potential by pushing beyond their own borders. The challenge is how to do this without degrading service quality. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Adam Rogers, Managing Director at Anexia, discussed how IaaS providers with a global presence and both virtual and dedicated infrastructure can help companies expand their service footprint with low “go-to-market” costs.
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
The pace of innovation, vendor lock-in, production sustainability, cost-effectiveness, and managing risk… In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Dan Choquette, Founder of RackN, discussed how CIOs are challenged finding the balance of finding the right tools, technology and operational model that serves the business the best. He also discussed how clouds, open source software and infrastructure solutions have benefits but also drawbacks and how workload and operational portability between vendors ...
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...
In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee Atchison, Principal Cloud Architect and Advocate at New Relic, discussed cloud as a ‘better data center’ and how it adds new capacity (faster) and improves application availability (redundancy). The cloud is a ‘Dynamic Tool for Dynamic Apps’ and resource allocation is an integral part of your application architecture, so use only the resources you need and allocate /de-allocate resources on the fly.
"A lot of times people will come to us and have a very diverse set of requirements or very customized need and we'll help them to implement it in a fashion that you can't just buy off of the shelf," explained Nick Rose, CTO of Enzu, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
What does it look like when you have access to cloud infrastructure and platform under the same roof? Let’s talk about the different layers of Technology as a Service: who cares, what runs where, and how does it all fit together. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Lead Technology Evangelist at SoftLayer, an IBM company, spoke about the picture being painted by IBM Cloud and how the tools being crafted can help fill the gaps in your IT infrastructure.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Bsquare has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For more than two decades, Bsquare has helped its customers extract business value from a broad array of physical assets by making them intelligent, connecting them, and using the data they generate to optimize business processes.
"SpeedyCloud's specialty lies in providing cloud services - we provide IaaS for Internet and enterprises companies," explained Hao Yu, CEO and co-founder of SpeedyCloud, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Big Data at Cloud Expo - to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - has announced its Call for Papers is open. Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is...
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to imp...
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
Creating replica copies to tolerate a certain number of failures is easy, but very expensive at cloud-scale. Conventional RAID has lower overhead, but it is limited in the number of failures it can tolerate. And the management is like herding cats (overseeing capacity, rebuilds, migrations, and degraded performance). Download Slide Deck: ▸ Here In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing for the HGST Cloud Infrastructure Business Unit, discusse...
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....