One of the hottest trends in the business world today is the consumerization of IT. This started with the “BYOD” (Bring Your Own Device) movement. As people became comfortable consuming information and working on tablets and mobile devices, they started using them in the workplace. A similar trend is now happening with analytics. Business users are gaining access to massive amounts of customer and transactional data, which they know is full of valuable information they can use to make better decisions. Increasingly, they want more analysis done on the data. As a matter of fact, business leaders are fully aware that simply relying on gut instinct or defaulting to the status quo is no longer the safe approach. Advanced analytics will only continue to grow in importance as the pace of business picks up and more and more organizations build competitive advantage based on big data and analytics.
IBM Watson Analytics continues IBM’s vision for making advanced analytics more approachable and accessible. IBM expects this product, now in beta testing, to lead to wider adoption of analytics across the frontlines of business, where there is not an abundance of advanced degrees in computer science, mathematics or statistics.
While business users are not asking for advanced analytics per se, they do know their business goals and challenges, and they need answers quickly. They've long been accustomed to asking their business analysts or IT teams to validate a suspected trend or to find proof that sales have dropped due to a previously unseen competitive threat. But they've never thought they could answer these questions themselves.
Business users have the deepest understanding of their business and operations and ought to be the stewards of their own analytical needs. Generally, they have more questions and demands than IT or their analytics specialists can handle, throttling the creativity that is typically missing from the data and analytics-intensive problem solving process. Usually, it is just too difficult to validate sneaking suspicions -- even though some might lead to important breakthroughs.
With Watson Analytics, business users can finally take control of their own ad hoc analysis, complementing what they get solely as consumers out of the dashboards and standard reports produced by traditional business intelligence and data discovery tools -- the exclusive realm of IT and technical business analysts. Watson Analytics embeds sophisticated analytics and intuitively surfaces relevant relationships and facts hidden in the data, so that a user is never exposed to the powerful algorithms under the covers, removing the skills barrier or the reliance on the IT or analytics professional.
Figure 1: Watson Analytics automatically presents related facts and insights to guide discovery
For example, outside her standard campaign effectiveness reports, a marketing manager can now independently identify the top drivers that influence the response rate of a particular marketing campaign, driven off a hunch there is a tie to an external market factor, to uncover a previously untracked driver. This is actionable information that can be used by a marketing manager to target those specific customers in future marketing campaigns – all without needing to be an expert in data or statistical analysis.
Instead of the starts and stops of taking an ask-and-wait approach with an analyst, business users are immediately engaged and guided through a creative discovery and exploration process, giving them a more complete view of the business through insights into previously unknown opportunities. By putting advanced analytics in the hands of those making decisions, when they need to make them, Watson Analytics has the potential to revolutionize the way businesses operate, helping them to be more enlightened, proactive and successful.
Learn more about the Watson Analytic beta program by clicking here.
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