Why Analytics and the Cloud Are a Good Match
In earlier posts my colleagues discussed how cloud computing helps companies escape the tyranny of IT complexity and how imprinting cloud computing on a company’ s “DNA” can determine which organizations thrive. I’ll pick up on those threads by focusing on how cloud analytics can improve performance.
Why analytics and why now? Because in the era of Big Data, mission-critical business functions such as customer engagement and business-to-business collaboration depend on cloud-based analytics. In this post I’ll summarize the benefits of using cloud-based analytics, address security concerns, and offer tips for finding the right cloud analytics provider.
The benefits of cloud-based analytics
IDC’s recent NA Global Technology and Industry Research Org IT Survey found that 71% of respondents are using, planning, or researching cloud solutions, and 64% believe it is important to have subscription access to software. These findings reflect two advantages of the cloud — speed to insight and ease of data sharing and collaboration. There is usually a cost advantage too: subscription fees for cloud services can be substantially lower than capital outlays for hardware, maintenance, and software licensing for on-premise systems.
The sports industry’s innovative use of cloud analytics illustrates these advantages. Leagues such as the NFL, NHL and NBA continuously integrate big data about player performance, games, ticket sales, and attendance, to identify factors that affect the league’s bottom line. Throughout the season leagues develop granular and big-picture insights that allow them to refine advertising, merchandising, and ticketing strategies – and keep fans continuously engaged. Legions of fans – especially those in fantasy leagues – also pull data from league websites to inform decisions about upcoming games and rosters as well as to predict performance.
Insight that supports better, faster decisions is the primary benefit of cloud analytics – yet the cloud’s flexibility and scalability are also crucial. If you’re using a cloud analytics offering you can quickly adjust your use to fit changing needs. IT teams embrace cloud services in part because this on-demand, scalable nature frees up time to focus on more strategic, innovative activities. In short, cloud analytics simplifies complex business tasks and IT operations while saving time and money.
Why your data is safe in the cloud
The headlines give the impression that data hacking is common – but the reality is quite different. Providers of cloud-based analytic solutions, particularly those for regulated industries such as financial services and healthcare, must meet stringent compliance standards (e.g., ISO27001 standards) far tougher than those imposed on most in-house systems.
Nonetheless, to make sure data is safe in your provider’s environment, IT and business teams should:
- Seek out experienced, proven, compliant cloud solution and service providers recognized as leaders by respected analysts such as Gartner.
- Understand where your trusted data ‘lives’, and the data center security measures (e.g., access controls, disaster recovery processes) used to safeguard it.
- Document governance, risk, and compliance expectations clearly, and verify compliance with audit schedules.
How Daimler Trucks improves top and bottom lines with cloud analytics
Deeper insight, speed, better decisions, and reduced costs sound good – but what do cloud analytics look like in practice? Daimler Trucks provides a great example – a complex problem, solved with an elegant cloud-based analytics solution.
Daimler wanted to provide dealers with real-time information about inventory and customer leads. The cloud-based analytics solution it chose pulls and integrates information (vehicle registration dates, fail rates, etc.) from multiple sources, then uses predictive modeling to estimate when specific owners might replace their vehicles. Sales teams use data visualization tools to refine these leads by adding and exploring market-relevant data. Now dealers can better target customers, improving sales force effectiveness, and can easily share the resulting business intelligence. One Daimler employee characterized the new solution as “the best thing we’ve done in 15 years.”
I’ll sign off with one last thought. The happy paradox of cloud analytics is that it transforms collaboration across companies and partner ecosystems and delivers insights quickly while actually simplifying operations. Isn’t that a compelling reason to give cloud analytics a try? I’d like to hear your thoughts.
Follow me at @cpraendl
Clemens Praendl, SVP & Global GM, SAP Analytics