Changing the Analytics Culture

Slide Show

Business Analytics: Shifting Hindsight to Insight and Foresight

Highlights from a study conducted by Deloitte on business analytics usage.

With the advent of ready access to large amounts of data, otherwise known as Big Data, business people are looking to analyze as much data as possible in the hopes of discovering new opportunities.

The trouble is that many of them work in an IT culture that is used to giving people access to only a finite amount of data. New data management frameworks such as MapReduce and Hadoop make it possible to cost-effectively analyze large amounts of data, but many IT organizations don't have the skills in place to master those technologies.

According to Anjul Bhambhri, vice president of Big Data for IBM, this gap between the IT skills at hand and the desires of the business community is starting to create some tension, which could be resolved with the appointment of someone who will function as the chief data scientist or officer. It's all part of a larger strategic effort that focuses on business intelligence and the use of analytics applications. Bhambhri says IBM is increasingly seeing this role being taken on as part of an effort to first bring order to all the unstructured data companies have access to, and then to correlate that information with the company's structured data. As Bhambhri notes, there is no structure to a Tweet on Twitter, so all that unstructured data has to first be centralized and then organized using, most commonly, MapReduce and Hadoop.

One might argue that because chief information officers are theoretically in charge of information, this task would fall under their purview. But there is a world of difference between managing data and understanding the business value of that data; hence the need for a new class of business data specialists.

Business people want the freedom to analyze data without any restrictions being imposed on them by the IT department. That requirement makes many traditional IT executives uncomfortable because much of their job for the last 40 years has been tied to organizing a finite amount of data for consumption in a highly structured report that did not allows users to easily drill down into the underlying data. But as is often the case, the changing fundamentals of analytics are creating another moment in time when IT needs to lead, follow or simply get out of the way.