Even my father-in-law got to read about data mining this past
Sunday, thanks to the New York Times.
Yesterday’s Sunday New York
Times had an article titled Bright
Ideas: Reaping Results: Data-Mining Goes Mainstream about analytics going mainstream in business. (I know, print media is
supposed to be dead, but I still like to read the Sunday Times with a coffee – I am a dinosaur.)
Those of us in the IT industry are used to getting information from
techie magazines, web sites/blogs, and marketing materials. Occasionally our industry is covered in the Wall Street Journal when there’s a high
tech merger & acquisition (M&A). So it’s refreshing to see an article
in a major mainstream publication about our industry.
The article states that "Faster and cheaper computing and ample
sources of information in digital form — plucked from enterprise resource
planning systems, point-of-sale devices and Web sites — mean that most
companies now have the tools to do the kind of competitive analytics that only
a relative handful of elite companies could do in the past."
In the article, Thomas H. Davenport, a professor at Babson College, co-author with Jeanne G. Harris of Competing
on Analytics: The New Science of Winning (Harvard Business School
Press, 2007) says "It’s really starting to become mainstream…"
The combination of affordable (that, of
course, is a debate for another post) analytics tools and, more importantly,
the quality and quantity of business data to enable that analysis is what has
positioned business intelligence to cross the chasm to business mainstream.
The article states that "The results
help explain why business-intelligence software is one of the hot markets in
technology, supplied by companies like SAS, Business Objects, Cognos, MicroStrategy
and Information Builders… Microsoft has entered the field as well."
In the 1990s many data warehouses and
business intelligence initiatives were created in the "if we build it they will
come" philosophy. That didn’t always work because the data, BI tools and
business folks just weren’t ready for prime-time.
BUT it’s different now. Businesses are demanding
the data and the analytical capabilities. In fact,
the entry barrier for effectively using analytics "is no longer technology, but
whether you have executives who understand this."
The good news is that there are many business executives who do
understand. I see it with my clients, and I hear about it from colleagues. There
are also many more who know that data and analytics are crucial but they don’t
know how to get there. That’s our collective goal: educate the business
mainstream about the road to get to analytics nirvana – data.