Today’s businesses require an adept and capable analytics framework that supports business functions. They need to apply that framework to everything from the deployment of new platforms across web, mobile, and cloud technologies, to connecting with various types of data, applications, and systems that exist within the analytics ecosystem. As Business Intelligence (BI) capabilities have grown, so too has corporate demand for deploying completely customized analytics across the entire organization, and access to trustworthy data enabling 100 percent accurate business outcomes.
To help business leaders plan their analytics future, Wayne Eckerson, founder and principal consultant of the Eckerson Group, a research and consulting firm helping business analytics leaders use data and technology to drive better insights and actions, has compiled a list of ten key capabilities management should look for when deploying a modern analytics platform that can set the company on the path of an intelligent enterprise:
1. Support all modes of BI and users
A critically important aspect of a modern analytics platform is the ability to support every type of BI—from production reporting, dashboards, and scorecards, to ad hoc reporting, visual discovery, collaboration and predicting functions.
Further, every type of user should be able to successfully interact with an analytics platform to perform work tasks. That means both the power user diving deep into the data and the casual user looking for insights can feel confident using a modern analytics platform.
2. Deploy native anywhere
A modern analytics platform must be able to be deployed across the web, mobile devices, and the cloud. This enables any user to create and share a report or dashboard once and deploy it across any platform without additional configuration or changes.
3. Support analysis with data discovery
It’s time to get a new analytics platform if it’s nothing more than a glorified extraction tool. A modern analytics platform will enable your analysts to find, connect, combine, transform, analyze, and visualize data—and share results. When you vastly expand the use cases of an analytics platform, companies can drive adoption and make it easier for analysts to be more productive.
4. Support governed self-service
The problem with many self-service tools is that some users end up creating excessive and sometimes conflicting reports that undermine trust in the overall data. A modern analytics platform balances the need for self-service with the need for governance by giving data analysts the freedom to generate insights quickly while giving the IT department and governance teams the ability to maintain standards for reports and data.
5. Integrated architecture and services
In a world of big data, silos are your enemy. In order to have consistency across all of your data discovery and reporting, an analytics platform must be scalable. But often scalability comes at the price of performance. Very few products can meet both needs simultaneously.
Metadata is the lifeblood that keeps organizations running. A modern analytics platform will allow businesses to access all of that metadata while also meeting the needs of the casual user. Ultimately, businesses should look for platforms that have distribution services for automated content, transaction services that help analyze data, a strong analytical engine, and strong security measures.
6. Connect to any data
There is so much data diversity in the modern computing environment. As such, a modern analytics platform must be able to connect to and process any data source, from structured to semi-structured and unstructured. In reality, there is not a single company that relies on only one data source, so why should your analytics platform?
7. Balance scalability and performance
Historically, most BI tools have come with a tradeoff between speed and scalability. On the one hand, scalable tools connect directly to big data sources and applications and allow users to query data. On the other hand, BI tools that favor performance extract data, model it, and store it in a high performance database, but can only show summary views of data.
Now, however, modern analytics platforms can provide the best of both worlds. Businesses should look for tools that can scale using native drivers, caches, and query projections to improve response times. They should use scale-out and scale-up platforms to place more data in memory or on disks.
8. Extensible and open
One of the most important things to look for in an analytics platform is whether or not it can run other applications. A tell tale sign of a modern analytics platform is whether there is an ecosystem of developers that are building upon the analytics environment. Platforms that have endorsed an open system enable customers to build completely customized and branded applications that can deliver a much more personalized service.
9. Collaboration and storytelling
Collaboration and storytelling are two of the most critical aspects of a modern analytics platform that ensures widespread adoption across the entire organization.
Collaboration functionalities like the ability to annotate a dashboard or cell within a dashboard or make a comment within a document encourages more users to work together. And storytelling functionalities like lifting charts from a report and embedding them into other documents help users to dig into data and showcase new insights.
10. Progressive pricing
Finally, business leaders should look for progressive and modern pricing strategies. Too often, pricing is opaque, but the best analytics platforms are transparent in their pricing, offer a free or “freemium” service, and are flexible enough to align costs with value.
To learn more about the top characteristics of a modern analytics platform and how you can set your organization on a future path towards an Intelligent Enterprise, download the Eckerson Group’s white paper or tune in to MicroStrategy’s on-demand webcast featuring the Eckerson Group’s Wayne Eckerson.