At the annual SAS Global Forum in Washington, D.C., the keynote speaker was The Honorable Madeleine Albright, Former Secretary of State and Principal of the Albright Group LLC, who talked about her tenure under Bill Clinton. She made some interesting points which were very enlightening:
- A person presenting the information has a bias and that is why she always wants the raw data in addition to the analysis.
- The first information that comes in is usually "wrong."
- There is no such thing as a completely objective statistic!
Jim Davis, Senior Vice President of Marketing for SAS, stated that the future is not business intelligence, it is business analytics and that every corporation must implement a business analytics framework to be successful in the future. He emphasized that business analytics is a framework and not a platform. The business analytics framework from SAS is comprised of four components: business solutions, reporting, analytics and data integration. Business intelligence is just a subset of business analytics.
Obviously, you can't argue with the success of SAS, which has just recorded its 33rd straight year of revenue growth to $2.6 billion, but the fact that Jim perceives business intelligence (BI) as a subset of business analytics is a stretch. I agree that BI has evolved into the realm of analytics, which is a major focus for the business user today. The business buys solutions that are focused on their specific industry. The business intelligence market has continued to grow at a remarkable rate and today encompasses much more than traditional reporting.
Jim also presented some interesting numbers that I found fascinating: In 2007, there were 281 exabytes of information, and by 2011 we will have over 1,800 exabytes of information available. There are currently 107 million active Internet domains, 1.5 billion Internet users (roughly 25% of the population) and over 133,000 new sites are added to the Web every day.
Jim also described eight steps on how business analytics have moved from being reactive to proactive. The first 4 steps are reactive: standard reporting, ad hoc reporting, query drill down (OLAP) and alerts via dashboards. The 4 proactive steps are statistical analysis, forecasting, predictive modeling and optimization. He emphasized that with analytics, one size does not fit all.
He also emphasized that each enterprise must determine their organizational readiness for deploying a business analytics framework. The readiness assessment includes six key areas:
- Do I have the right people?
- Is our leadership involved?
- Do we have transparency with regard to goals and KPIs?
- Are we effectively communicating the process between employees and customers?
- Do we have an infrastructure?
- Is the culture of the organization ready to embrace change?