It has been a little over a year since IBM’s Watson Analytics was released. Watson Analytics, a smart data discovery tool, continues to deliver easy analytics for everyone. Some competitors are trying to catch and imitate what IBM has delivered but frankly, their latest news is more “snooze worthy” than newsworthy.
Because Watson Analytics is so easy to use and visually appealing, IBM has seen strong adoption (1 million plus users!). Over the past couple of months there have been some amazing additions to an already fantastic product (see Watson Analytics for Social Media).
Watson Analytics is so powerful and can address so many different uses cases. I am frequently faced with the following query: So, I get it! I have a ton of data and I need a way to make sense of it. But what exactly do I DO with it??
This really depends on what your role is. In our work lives we each fit into some type of role:
- sales guy
- finance professional
- operations director
- supply chain manager
- head of strategy
So, as you read this and think about what YOU can do with Watson Analytics, think about the data you need to better visualize. Think about what finding patterns within your data could do for you. Finally, think about how adding social media data to your analyses can make you analyses event more effective.
But most importantly let’s put this in context of some of the major roles and use cases that will matter to you:
Over the next several weeks, I will be sharing the details behind some of these specific use cases and providing a “how to do this yourself” approach. Check back to hear more about how #watsonanalytics can help address many of these use cases.
Making analytics accessible to all users has been a challenge for years. Companies like Tableau and Qlik have done a decent job of reaching finicky business users by providing visualizations and data discovery capabilities. They are largely one trick ponies in each of their areas of strength. That is just not going to work for me. I am an only child with some strong Veruca Salt tendencies (Think, I want it all and I want it NOW!). So I am particularly happy to talk about the Watson Analytics announcement today.
Here is what the market is saying:
As a former marketing operations leader, I am thrilled to see these types of capabilities being offered directly to marketing, sales, human resources, and finance professionals. For the first time these business users can have all of the analytics capabilities they need in one location without ANY technical knowledge required. From snazzy visualizations to predictive analytics Watson Analytics offers the analytics you need all in one single location to answer questions like:
- How can I make sure I target the hottest leads?
- How can I increase the value of the customers I already have?
- How can I create more successful campaigns?
- How can we attract and retain the right employees with the right skills?
- How can we create and keep top performers?
I have neither the time nor the patience to play around with analytics tools. I need to get the answers to these from my data and make decisions NOW. Watson Analytics gives me what I need and it is cloud based….so I don’t need to download and install anything! Woohoo!
Watson Analytics is starting with a beta program. I am looking forward to getting my grubby little mitts on it over the next several weeks. You too can get an early glimpse by registering for the beta here!
I recently had the chance to attend the Gartner BI Summit in Las Vegas. If you are in the analytics space and have not attended this event, you really need to check it out. My colleague Marcus Hearne shares his experiences at the event in his blog post. The event is Gartner‘s opportunity to share their point of view but also for analytics vendors of all sizes to share their points of view.
So what did I take away from this event? Put quite simply, analytics vendors must design solutions and capabilities that are fast, easy and smart. For too long, analytics have been relegated to the to the wizards, witches, sorcerers and sorceresses in their lair. It does not need to be that way. As Gartner analyst Rita Sallam pointed out in the keynote, mere mortals can demystify the magic and understand the “tricks” behind the magic.
As I sat through the various vendor sessions I picked up on the key themes of fast, easy and smart. Let’s talk a little bit about what that means:
Fast: Each of the sessions I sat through demonstrated the speed of the analytics offerings. This should just be an expectation period, no discussion. You need answers and you need them fast. We expect to get answers quickly in our personal lives…why should we have a different expectation at work? It was more than just raw speed. It is also about getting up and running quickly. This can be done by adopting cloud based analytic solutions.
Easy: Analytics solutions must be dead simple to use – I am talking as easy as a telephone, microwave or a garden hose. If analytics require a PhD or reading a long manual…there will be no broad adoption. But it is much more that just easy to use. The information must be easy to understand. This can be accomplished through powerful visualizations. Remember: A Picture is worth a thousand words.
Smart: Many of the latest and greatest innovations feature industry specific or use case specific solutions, such as Predictive Maintenance and Quality. Analytic solutions must be specific to the users’ role and address specific pain points. More and more offerings will include some form of intelligence to make the analytics all the more powerful.
To hear more about analytics I recommend visiting a Business Analytics Summit in a city near you.