Here’s the bottom line with business analytics. Your business needs better decision making at operational, tactical and strategic levels. Business analytics can transform the first two, but has much less to offer at the strategic level. So the starting point is to decide which decisions are candidates for improvement – loan approvals, upsell offers, recommendations, fraud detection, predictive maintenance, insurance policy pricing, marketing spend optimization, automated business process improvement, and for each organization a long list of decisions made at operational and tactical levels that determine the fate of the organization. Each decision process is a candidate for improvement through analytics. The job of business management is to prioritize and then initiate the development and deployment of analytical models to improve the relevant decisions.
Hopefully there isn’t much that is contentious here, and a business decision approach brings clarity, where the fog of technology fashions obscures. Many large organizations have invested in big data, visual analytics, predictive analytics, machine learning and other contemporary technologies, but with little return. This is the inevitable outcome of a technology driven strategy. So it is something of a relief to find a business analytics technology and services supplier that is business focused – namely GoodData. In my discussion with Roman Stanek, the Founder and CEO of GoodData, nearly all the conversation revolved around business problems, opportunities and solutions, and only when pressed did we get to talk about the technology to some extent.
Here is what GoodData offers in a nutshell:
- Ruthless focus on business needs – a solutions driven approach, with no gratuitous technology.
- An end-to-end analytics PaaS (platform as a service) based on open source technologies such as R, Python, Docker, Kafka, Spark, React and numerous other components.
- Industry leading governance and compliance capabilities, with model monitoring, model distribution, data distribution, and all aspects of decision model governance.
- A framework for the distribution of business analytics to trading partners and others who need them.
- The use of packages as partial solutions to speed up development and deployment – six weeks is typical of decision model design, development and deployment.
- Embedding of decision models into production applications to eliminate context switching and supply intelligence exactly where it is needed.
- Routine application of advanced analytics to business problems to provide sophisticated solutions.
This is not a visual analytics platform for business users and analysts to slice and dice data on an ongoing basis, although the visual component features very strongly in GoodData solutions. It is not a data science platform per se, for data scientists and analysts to develop models and train algorithms, although data science is also a very prominent component in GoodData solutions. The whole effort is business focused and everything else takes second place – and rightly so.
Machine learning and AI feature strongly in the GoodData portfolio of technologies and methods, and as far as the company is concerned any new technologies get used as needed. I haven’t seen any mention of prescriptive analytics, and particularly optimization, but no doubt these technologies will be used when optimization problems present themselves.
GoodData is winning some large contracts, some of which are measured in the tens of millions of dollars. In my opinion the positioning is perfect for the growing awareness that business analytics is indeed business as usual, and presents new opportunities for greater efficiency and efficacy. This business focused approach also helps management estimate the return they might get on an investment. If churn rate can be reduced by just one per cent for example, business managers will know exactly what this means in terms of top and bottom lines.
While the vast majority of technology providers are catering to a fascination with analytics, GoodData has simply refocused on the business and assembled the relevant technologies to deliver business solutions. The company makes it all seem so obvious, and obvious is what we need at a time when technology is being paraded as an end in itself.