Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Greg Schulz, Jerome McFarland

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
Struggling to keep up with increasing application demand? Learn how Platform as a Service (PaaS) can streamline application development processes and make resource management easy.
New Relic, Inc. has announced a set of new features across the New Relic Software Analytics Cloud that offer IT operations teams increased visibility, and the ability to diagnose and resolve performance problems quickly. The new features further IT operations teams’ ability to leverage data and analytics, as well as drive collaboration and a common, shared understanding between teams. Software teams are under pressure to resolve performance issues quickly and improve availability, as the comple...
The IoT has the potential to create a renaissance of manufacturing in the US and elsewhere. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Florent Solt, CTO and chief architect of Netvibes, will discuss how the expected exponential increase in the amount of data that will be processed, transported, stored, and accessed means there will be a huge demand for smart technologies to deliver it. Florent Solt is the CTO and chief architect of Netvibes. Prior to joining Netvibes in 2007, he co-founded Rift Technol...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu, a leading provider of cloud hosting solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to foc...
Many private cloud projects were built to deliver self-service access to development and test resources. While those clouds delivered faster access to resources, they lacked visibility, control and security needed for production deployments. In their session at 18th Cloud Expo, Steve Anderson, Product Manager at BMC Software, and Rick Lefort, Principal Technical Marketing Consultant at BMC Software, will discuss how a cloud designed for production operations not only helps accelerate developer...
Join IBM June 8 at 18th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn how to innovate like a startup and scale for the enterprise. You need to deliver quality applications faster and cheaper, attract and retain customers with an engaging experience across devices, and seamlessly integrate your enterprise systems. And you can't take 12 months to do it.
This is not a small hotel event. It is also not a big vendor party where politicians and entertainers are more important than real content. This is Cloud Expo, the world's longest-running conference and exhibition focused on Cloud Computing and all that it entails. If you want serious presentations and valuable insight about Cloud Computing for three straight days, then register now for Cloud Expo.
The proper isolation of resources is essential for multi-tenant environments. The traditional approach to isolate resources is, however, rather heavyweight. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Igor Drobiazko, co-founder of elastic.io, will draw upon their own experience with operating a Docker container-based infrastructure on a large scale and present a lightweight solution for resource isolation using microservices. He will also discuss the implementation of microservices in data and applicat...
Based on the open source Cloud Foundry technology, IBM Bluemix is an open-standard, cloud-based platform for building, managing, and running applications of all types such as web, mobile, Big Data, and new smart devices. Bluemix abstracts and hides most of the complexities that are associated with hosting and managing cloud-based applications. As an application developer, you can focus on developing your application without having to manage the infrastructure that is required to host it. For mob...
As you respond to increasing requests for new analytics, you need fast and flexible technology in your arsenal so that you can deploy the right workload to the right platform for the need at hand. Do you need self-service and fast time to value? Do you have data and application control and privacy needs, along with strict SLAs to meet? IBM dashDB™ is data warehouse technology powered by in-memory computing and in-database analytics that are designed for fast results, scalability and more.
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, will discuss how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to im...
Peak 10, Inc., has announced the implementation of IT service management, a business process alignment initiative based on the widely adopted Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework. The implementation of IT service management enhances Peak 10’s current service-minded approach to IT delivery by propelling the company to deliver higher levels of personalized and prompt service. The majority of Peak 10’s operations employees have been trained and certified in the ITIL frame...
The paradigm has shifted. A Gartner survey shows that 43% of organizations are using or plan to implement the Internet of Things in 2016. However, not just a handful of companies are still using the old-style ad-hoc trial-and-error ways, unaware of the critical barriers, paint points, traps, and hidden roadblocks. How can you become a winner? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan will present a methodical approach to guide the holistic adoption and enablement of IoT implementations. This ov...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Stratoscale, the software company developing the next generation data center operating system, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Stratoscale is revolutionizing the data center with a zero-to-cloud-in-minutes solution. With Stratoscale’s hardware-agnostic, Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) solution to store everything, run anything and scale everywhere...
Angular 2 is a complete re-write of the popular framework AngularJS. Programming in Angular 2 is greatly simplified – now it's a component-based well-performing framework. This immersive one-day workshop at 18th Cloud Expo, led by Yakov Fain, a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and the product company SuranceBay, will provide you with everything you wanted to know about Angular 2.
Redis is not only the fastest database, but it has become the most popular among the new wave of applications running in containers. Redis speeds up just about every data interaction between your users or operational systems. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Dave Nielsen, Developer Relations at Redis Labs, will shares the functions and data structures used to solve everyday use cases that are driving Redis' popularity.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
Up until last year, enterprises that were looking into cloud services usually undertook a long-term pilot with one of the large cloud providers, running test and dev workloads in the cloud. With cloud’s transition to mainstream adoption in 2015, and with enterprises migrating more and more workloads into the cloud and in between public and private environments, the single-provider approach must be revisited. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Yoav Mor, multi-cloud solution evangelist at Cloudy...
You deployed your app with the Bluemix PaaS and it's gaining some serious traction, so it's time to make some tweaks. Did you design your application in a way that it can scale in the cloud? Were you even thinking about the cloud when you built the app? If not, chances are your app is going to break. Check out this webcast to learn various techniques for designing applications that will scale successfully in Bluemix, for the confidence you need to take your apps to the next level and beyond.
See storage differently! Storage performance problems have only gotten worse and harder to solve as applications have become largely virtualized and moved to a cloud-based infrastructure. Storage performance in a virtualized environment is not just about IOPS, it is about how well that potential performance is guaranteed to individual VMs for these apps as the number of VMs keep going up real time. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Dhiraj Sehgal, in product and marketing at Tintri, will discu...