The vast majority of analytics software is going to be consumed within another application, rather than exist as a stand-alone application. Recognizing this fact, analytics application vendors are racing to deliver robust sets of APIs around their applications that make it easier for developers to embed those capabilities within their applications.
A leading advocate of this approach to analytics has been KXEN, a provider of a predictive analytics software that was acquired earlier this year by SAP. Rather than simply burying KXEN with the much larger SAP application portfolio, SAP today reiterated the KXEN commitment to providing an open API.
KXEN is already available as an application that can be easily embedded within, for example, a Salesforce.com application or a Teradata warehouse. Shekhar Iyer, SAP global vice president of business intelligence and predictive analytics, says SAP is committed to embedding KXEN within its own applications and allowing developers to continue to embed KXEN within their own applications.
SAP today announced SAP InfiniteInsight, which packages KXEN with existing SAP analytics and visualization tools. But the overarching goal, says Iyer, is to provide a seamless experience by providing access to analytics at the point of application consumption, rather than having to always invoke a separate analytics application that sports a completely different user interface. Ultimately, those analytics capabilities will both be embedded within the application and delivered as a cloud service.
The implication of those kinds of capabilities is significant for organizations of all sizes. Business executives will have access to relevant information on demand, instead of having to rely on an analyst to query a dedicated data warehouse to find an answer, which might take hours or days. As predictive analytics becomes more accessible to the average user, business analysts will be required to increase their skills to take on more of the role of a data scientist, which right now there is a chronic shortage of in most organizations. The end result should be data scientists discovering deeper, more meaningful business insights, while on a daily basis the average end user is invoking predictive analytics to make more reliable business decisions.
In fact, a recent survey of 309 business end users conducted by research firm LoudHouse on behalf of SAP found that 90 percent believe that predictive analytics provides a competitive advantage for their business. Sixty percent of those surveyed said predictive analytics is a major IT priority. A full 80 percent said they believe predictive analytics will be a crucial investment within the next five years.
This new generation of data-driven applications will be taking advantage of predictive analytics to leverage the massive investments being made in Big Data. This approach promises to cost-effectively give organizations direct access to all the raw data they need using platforms such as Hadoop or Cassandra, versus the subsets of data that most organizations can practically store in data warehouses built on a SQL relational database.