Making a Success of Analytics

According to IDC, the worldwide revenue for big data and business analytics is expected to climb to $187 billion by 2019. In Technology Solutions’ opinion, the channel is poised to play an ever more critical role in the analytics market as it continues to mature. Here, Craig Smith, Director IoT & Analytics, Technology Solutions EMEA, formerly a division of Avnet, now part of Tech Data explains how the Channel can capitalise on the analytics piece of the IoT solution.

Historically, analytics was all about business intelligence reporting from systems such as CRM or ERP. However with the introduction of next-generation technologies and the internet of things (IoT) the world of analytics is changing fast. There are now vast amounts of information being gathered via sensors. Technology Solutions has seen this first hand from IoT solutions we’ve helped partners build. Solutions such as smart office sensors or even industrial water monitoring.

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We are seeing end-users with much greater expectations of what can be achieved from the analytics performed on this data. Now predictive, prescriptive, risk and cognitive analytics, and analysing market sentiment are the new drivers. As next-generation technologies become more mainstream, the channel will see more customers becoming heavily reliant on detailed business insight from their data to gain competitive market advantage.

As with most technologies, different analytics platforms have their strengths and weaknesses. So unless a partner specialises in a niche solution, they are going to need access to a broad portfolio of analytics solutions to draw upon. We shouldn’t forget, partners need to transform any analytics platform into a working solution that is delivering real world results. We find that the channel has an amazing relationship with their customers. They are able to understand the business issues and guide their journey to the right business outcome. This is something the channel are familiar with and have done well for a long time. However, the challenge and to some extent, the risk, comes with having to employ the right amount of technical skills. This is a delicate balance between having too much and losing money or not having enough, which can impact project quality and timeliness.

When it comes to understanding the evolution of the analytics market, we are seeing three key drivers for growth:

Understanding near real-time analytics. Until now, analytics has been used as a reactive measure, taking historical data and turning it into actions. However, analytics is being applied to cognitive technologies, such as IBM Watson, to help organisations determine a predictive future state or customer behaviour. Organisations are embracing advanced and cognitive analytics to understand what their customers are thinking and what motivates them. They need the support of a reliable technology infrastructure to make this possible. With more data, faster compute power, cheap access to fast storage and processing power, predictive analytics is now much more of a reality. End users can often have analytics in near real-time, to see things as they are happening. Near real-time and predictive analytics combined can create some amazingly powerful solutions that are simply jaw dropping.

Recognising the right industries. Identifying an issue before it becomes a problem allows the customer to fix it quickly and more cost-effectively, putting them at a significant advantage in productivity and operations. Manufacturing, retail, automotive and the utilities sector are just some of the industries that have already started to use predictive and real-time analytics to their advantage. The channel should stay close to their customers and see which ones are looking to adopt IoT, because the chances are, there may also be exciting analytics opportunities.

Making the consumer shift. Big data is for the consumer now, not just the data scientist. Analytics is everywhere and is slowly evolving into a format that is more recognisable and understandable by the end-user. Partners need to be able to deliver bespoke solutions that support the complexities of analytics, and that fit their business correctly.

We mustn’t forget, analytics offers the opportunity for partners to deliver new services and infrastructure, to build out existing platforms and offer even more value from them. The channel is in a unique position. It has access to a constantly developing technology landscape, and a partner ecosystem that is tapped into numerous verticals on the cusp of next-generation technology adoption. Customers are becoming smarter, organisations are recognising the importance of cross-vendor solutions and IoT applications are fast becoming a reality. The glue to all this – the business interface and the way we measure performance – sits with the analytics. So to be relevant to your customer in the future, you need to be having conversations around analytics now.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine