As we celebrated our 10th Anniversary, it was fun to think back on the past years and not only see not only how our company evolved, but also how the analytics industry evolved. While the fundamentals of business intelligence stayed the same, we noticed 10 major changes in the past 10 years.
As we celebrated our 10th Anniversary, it was fun to think back on the past years and not only see not only how our company evolved, but also how the analytics industry evolved. While the fundamentals of business intelligence stayed the same, we noticed 8 major changes in the past 10 years.
“Ten years ago, it was very much about the single version of the truth,” says David Fussichen, President of Analytics8. “Business leaders wanted to minimize having multiple spreadsheets with conflicting data from various people in the organization. IT usually controlled not only the access to data, but also the methods by which an organization could access that data.”
Strict control over the data was often at the cost of timeliness and accessibility to mid-level managers and others who actually use the data to make decisions on a daily basis.
Now, ten years later, there is a shift to the other side of the spectrum. Most organizations we deal with want to get data in the hands of those who can do something with it, and they often sacrifice that “single version of the truth” that was the main driver of business intelligence ten years ago.
“So we have to help our clients walk the line,” says Fussichen. “We enable them to have that ‘single-version-of-the-truth’ while also allowing ubiquitous access to data.”
A large part of our pre-sales process used to include educating customers on what analytics could do for their company. “10 years later, customers know they need business intelligence,” said Fussichen. “They know they can use data as a strategic asset. We don’t need to convince them of that anymore.”
The educating we do today enables organizations to make better decisions by going beyond managing their data to strategically maximizing that data, not just have better reports.
“It’s much more of a business solution focus. It isn’t enough to be able to see last month’s sales reports. Businesses need to look at things like advanced geospatial analytics, spend analytics, and strategic data-driven planning.”
In 2005, stack vendors ruled the BI world: BusinessObjects, MicroStrategy, Cognos, Oracle BI, etc. Data discovery companies like QlikView (now Qlik) and Tableau were seen as toys that the old guard didn’t pay much attention to. Now this new generation of tools rules the BI software world along with companies like Birst who pioneered cloud-based BI.
“When we first started, we focused on one of the traditional tools: BusinessObjects. In the last 5-6 years more than 90% of our clients use the new generation tools,” said Fussichen.
You can get a feel for the changing landscape by comparing Gartner’s magic quadrant from 2006 to this year. As the new generation of BI tools emerged, the traditional BI companies consolidated. SAP, IBM, and Oracle bought everyone while small companies and start-ups took over the market.
While the concept of cloud computing can be traced back to the 1960s, according to MIT Technology Review, “many believe the first use of ‘cloud computing’ in its modern context occurred on August 9, 2006, when then Google CEO Eric Schmidt introduced the term to an industry conference.”
When we started, there was very little trust for solutions that were purely cloud based. However, over 10 years, our culture has shifted to an expectation of keeping information in the cloud between Apple syncing products, Google Apps, and more – it’s the norm—and business leaders also grew to trust cloud based solutions.
The consultant lifestyle is nicer than it used to be. “10 years ago, consultants were road warriors,” Fussichen remembers. Consultants had to travel frequently so they could be onsite with customers and access their systems and data.
With the rise of faster, more secure networks and an increased comfort level from business leaders to allow their data outside their walls, it became less of a necessity to have consultants on site at all times.
“There are now much better tools that allow consultants and customers to stay connected and collaborate. You no longer need to spend $50,000 on a teleconference room, when you can set up a GoToMeeting with clients.”
While the need for face-to-face interactions is less, there is still a desire from our clients and from us to meet in person and build a genuine partnership. “That’s why we still employ a 100% onshore model, and make sure we’re physically on site with our clients at critical parts of our projects.”
Mobile access is not just a trend.
It’s an expectation.
People no longer ask if a website or software has a mobile version.
“Ten years ago, it was a big deal to send a text alert,” says Fussichen. “It wasn’t even possible to visualize your data on a cell phone. Now we’re building full-featured mobile BI apps for our clients.”
We’ve been doing geospatial analytics since the beginning. But similarly to how we educated clients on their need for data analysis tools early on, we also educated companies on why they needed geospatial analytics.
“Today, geospatial analytics is huge. Everyone wants it,” says Fussichen.
Humans are wired to make sense of large amounts of data visually. Maps are one key way to present thousands or even millions of individual pieces of data at one time to enable better decision-making.
For example, we have a client who looked at the time it took ambulances to arrive at emergencies. When we plotted the data on a map, they could see areas where ambulances took longer to arrive. This is the kind of intelligence that can be used to improve, and even save lives.
In the past 10 years, the much-talked-about millennials entered the work world. “Working with millennials can be really fun. They’re eager to learn and bring a youthful freshness and innovation to the industry,” says Fussichen. “But the biggest concern with millennials is the turnover.”
Often times you’ll hire someone who is relatively junior and pay them a fair price. They get a little bit of experience and training under their belt and then they start hearing from other companies’ recruiters offering them maybe 10k more than what they get at their current company.
“When I began Analytics8 in the US, there was a pressure to compensate right and well, but it’s a different kind of intensity of pressure now,” says Fussichen. “Before, people were a little more loyal to institutions. Today, loyalties are given to people, not to an institution. If you like the people you work with, you’re more likely to be fulfilled at your job and stay.”
To navigate this change, we’ve had to evolve our internal business practices to include:
While many things have evolved and changed in the last 10 years, the fundamentals stay the same. “There’s no silver bullet,” says Fussichen. “There are new techniques and software, but peel that all away and you still have to figure out how to use your data to make smart business decisions.”