It was a spectacular event that showcased the latest and greatest analytics offerings from the most prominent vendors in the marketplace. The event also featured a BI Bakeoff, featuring four of the leaders in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platform with each vendor presenting a solution for how they would address a common data set revolving around the Opioid Crisis. There were also a plethora of keynotes, and breakout sessions on interesting topics like Sport Analytics, Big Data, AI, Blockchain, and Machine Learning. I personally co-presented in a breakout session with Tom Rump, CEO of Mesur.io in the session, “What Happens when Farming meets the Internet of Things (IoT)?”. A good time had by all, but what did I learn?
The World is a Confusing Place
While I had a great time at the event, and really enjoyed hearing about breakthrough technology, my biggest take away is a buyer of the technologies showcased in this event is in a tough spot. Quite a few of the vendors looked alike, the highlighted differentiators from each vendor appeared similar, and in some cases the purpose of a software offering was not clear. Having worked in the Analytics industry for 19 years, if I am confused, I believe the typical buyer is also confused. It would seem easy to purchase the wrong product, hurting both your business and your career. If you buy it, the business user might not come.
So What Should You Do?
Start with the business problem, not the technology. For instance, if a retailer desires to localize their assortment to align regional customer preferences with the inventory carried in a specific cluster of stores, then you probably do not need Blockchain or a Bot to get started. For a retailer that spends about 1% of their operational budget on IT, and only gets one shot at delivering a successful project, I suggest starting with the following:
1. The Business Problem – To put it another way, what do you want to accomplish? If you do not know, then spend some time brainstorming with your team before you start spending money.
2. Data – Dashboards, Algorithms, Bots, AI. They are all great, but they need data to make the solution valuable and usually this data lives in many different places.
3. Self Service – Business users need to be able to explore data and ask questions about data that supports the solution.
4. Governance – The right users need to see the right data. Your solution will be short lived if you cannot protect your data.
After you know what you want to do, and your analytics solution is flexible enough to empower your business to ask questions of their data, I suggest augmenting your solution with additional capability. Augmented Analytics is the smart way to scale up to innovative solutions that push the envelope while ensuring the needs of the business are met. In the interim, take a few Qlik Retail Industry Solutions for a test drive!