The trouble with most of the conversation surrounding analytics these days is that the assumption is that the goal is to generate some sort of report containing brilliant insights. While that’s certainly desirable, what most businesses really want is to use that insight to automate a particular business process in a way that allows the organization to attain a sustainable competitive advantage. Unfortunately, the problem with most analytics applications is that they wind up creating yet another isolated silo of data.
What businesses really need is a way to dynamically adjust a business process using the insights derived from running an analytics application. With that specific goal in mind, Decisyon has created a platform for building analytics applications that utilizes data virtualization capabilities and application programming interfaces. The data virtualization capabilities allow Decisyon to capture both structured and unstructured data regardless of where it resides using a metadata model that doesn’t require IT organizations to move all that data into a central data warehouse. The platform, written in Java, then aggregates all that data to create analytic applications, which then use APIs to adjust a process within a business application based on the insights generated by the analytics application.
According to Decisyon CEO Tom Cowan, the major benefit of this approach is that it introduces a level of business agility into the organization by allowing decisions to be made and automated based on all the raw data a company can collect from both internal and external sources. As new data is collected, those processes can then be dynamically adjusted within minutes to reflect the new information.
Most recently, Decisyon raised an additional $15 million in financing while simultaneously moving its corporate headquarters from Italy to Stamford, Conn., in preparation for entering the U.S. market more aggressively in 2013. Decisyon has built a decision-support application, a social customer relationship management (CRM) application and a process-control application primarily used in the pharmaceutical industry on top of its core analytics platform. While Decisyon will continue to sell these applications, Cowan says he expects to see business analysts creating any number of applications on top of the core Decisyon platform without the aid of expensive developers or data scientists that these days are just too hard to find.
While there’s no doubt that analytics tools offer great promise, many of them are too complex for the average organization to embrace. Not only do they require dedicated specialists, the hiring of data scientists alone can be cost-prohibitive. What most organizations really want is an analytics capability that can be embedded inside a business process in a way that continually optimizes that process, otherwise known as prescriptive analytics.
At the end of the day, all any business is really interested in is the result. Analytics is a means to an end, which ideally should provide a meaningful competitive advantage. Unfortunately, at the moment, we seem to be all too enamored with the idea of analytics, as opposed to really thinking through the process of how to practically apply it in ways that truly benefit the business.