Business users create self-service reports and predictions, and technology joins data in the cloud with Oracle Analytics Cloud.
By Tom Haunert
John Hagerty, vice president of product management for business analytics at Oracle, sees organizations asking new questions about datasources they haven’t tapped into and how to use that information to refine and enrich decisions.
Organizations demand significant capabilities from their business analytics tools. From enabling business users to create self-service data visualizations and reports to moving technology to the cloud and adding support for unstructured information, users are driving business analytics to do more. Oracle Magazine caught up with John Hagerty, vice president of product management for business analytics at Oracle, to talk about the state of business analytics, how the cloud is changing business analytics operations, current data integration challenges, and more.
Oracle Magazine: What is the state of business analytics today?
Hagerty: Business analytics has largely been about on-premises enterprise reporting where a very well-trained group of people, largely in IT, would establish an environment, model all the data, and then produce a whole series of dashboards and reports that get distributed to the masses. And while that is where business analytics has been, it is now being augmented with self-service business analytics. With self-service analytics, individuals—business users—can do their own analyses, do their own visualizations, and do their own projections. This self-service business analytics model has really become a focus for a lot of enterprises.
While more and more business analytics capabilities have been deployed within the enterprise and targeted toward different types of users, most of those deployments have been on premises. But now business analytics is increasingly headed toward the cloud for a couple of reasons: number one, for business agility, and number two, to work with data that is already located in the cloud. Organizations are putting analytics in the cloud alongside that data and mixing both on-premises and cloud data to do the types of analysis they need to do.
We’re seeing that integrating data is not necessarily only an IT task—it’s also a business analyst task.
Oracle Magazine: How is cloud changing the technology and operations of business analytics?
Hagerty: With all the business analytics technology on premises, it was a responsibility of the organization to procure the hardware, deploy the hardware, configure the hardware, implement the software on the hardware, and then maintain the environments. So a lot of the work around business analytics was also part of IT operations and focused on answering the question, “How do I manage and configure all of the hardware and software to be able to do what I want to do?”
With the cloud you eliminate a lot of that on-premises work. You don’t have to procure and upgrade your hardware on an ongoing basis, and you don’t have to install software if you don’t want to. With Oracle Cloud, for example, Oracle provides the computing and storage platform as a service; all you need to do is use it.
Because you don’t have to worry about a lot of hardware considerations in the cloud, you don’t have to plan, configure, and purchase for peak capacity—a capacity you need infrequently, maybe only a couple of days a week or month. And that makes a huge difference in terms of forward planning, cost management, and maintenance.
Oracle Magazine: How are business analytics technologies and processes integrating and addressing today’s data volumes and data variety?
Hagerty: Data integration has largely been the province of data integration specialists who aggregate, manipulate, and model data. But we’re seeing a change; we’re seeing that integrating data is not necessarily only an IT task—it’s also a business analyst task. There are data preparation capabilities within the Oracle analytics software and services that do data preparation, and a business analyst can use that technology to get information from different sources and meld it together, rather than having to go through an IT process to make that happen. IT professionals still manage the regular integration of big sources of data, but the business analyst can now pull things together on the fly and mix and merge data to support a specific analytic need.
Historically, when people think of business analytics (or business intelligence), they tend to think of structured data, such as their data warehouse. This information is well known and well trusted, but over the last few years there has been an explosion of different sources of data.
People are trying to get their arms around that new data, regardless of where it sits. So when people think about an enterprise business analytics strategy, they tend to think about a highly structured view of the enterprise data, but they need to ask new questions, such as, “What other sources of data haven’t I tapped into? How do I use that information to refine and enrich the decision that I need to make?” And getting those answers requires getting at all types of data, be it structured, unstructured in Hadoop, in a relational database, or in a flat file.
Oracle Magazine: Oracle recently announced the availability of Oracle Analytics Cloud. What is it, how does it fit into the Oracle Business Analytics cloud services portfolio, and how does it address the requirements of different businesses, users, and datasources?
Hagerty: Oracle Analytics Cloud delivers a collection of business analytics service capabilities. Oracle Analytics Cloud includes Oracle Data Visualization Cloud Service features for business-led groups; it includes Oracle Business Intelligence Cloud Service, which includes Oracle Data Visualization Cloud Service, but adds a semantic layer that adds governance and control. It includes mobile features with Oracle Day by Day, and it includes scenario modeling with Oracle Essbase.
Oracle Analytics Cloud is a complete solution that includes the capabilities of these services and features. It supports all roles in the enterprise, from business analyst to decision-makers to developers in IT. It scales from personal to work group to department to the enterprise. It delivers secure connections to the right data at the right time and provides a modern platform for team collaboration. And Oracle Analytics Cloud gives organizations freedom of choice for deployment and governance.
This article was originally published in Oracle Magazine.
Tom Haunert is editor of Oracle Magazine.
Photography by Dave Bradley