BI experts from Fortune 500 sound off on the future of analytics

Experts from Cisco, Caesars, Schneider, and GE give their two cents on how BI and analytics trends will evolve in the next two years.

These days, CIOs have been told their BI programs must: "Be agile! Analyze social media! Migrate to the cloud! Use Hadoop! Now!" But as business intelligence (BI) experts from Cisco Systems Inc., General Electric, Caesar's Entertainment Corp. and Schneider National Inc. attest, change doesn't happen overnight, and some trends that seem like "must haves" simply aren't. Together, they gave a candid view of what analytics and business intelligence will look like in the next two years.

Here is a SearchCIO Snapshot of their views on the future of analytics and BI from the Gartner Business Intelligence and Analytics Summit. Tip: The chief data officer thing is happening; text analytics? Not so much.

On hiring a chief data officer or chief digital officer

Gregory LewandowskiGregory
Lewandowski

"Is it critical? That's a good question. I think a lot of this has to do with timing. And, as we hear a little bit more about the movement to separate the "I" from the "T" in IT -- moving a portion to infrastructure and a portion to data and information, I think it inevitably starts to fall that way. It will be critical in the future, but at this point, people are surviving and learning and moving forward without it."
-- Gregory Lewandowski, senior manager, analytics center, Cisco

On Hadoop being integrated into the enterprise

Lothar SchubertLothar Schubert

"Especially in larger organizations that I talk to -- both internally and externally -- we do see Hadoop as an important element of the overall infrastructure data fabric. Is it most important? Not necessarily, but it's a vital aspect, particularly with the release of Hadoop version 2.
-- Lothar Schubert, platform marketing leader, GE Software

"[Businesses will] have it, yes. But do something useful with it and make sure it's an absolutely essential part of the analytics structure? Two years seems soon to me."
-- Mark Sherwood, senior director of global business systems, Cisco

On the maturity of predictive analytics

"If you think about the continuum of analytics delivery, [predictive analytics] is an area where, in the past, companies have been able to credibly state, 'This is an area that creates distinction for us.' In the future, that's not going to be true. Assuming the quality of the underlying data is reasonably uniform across industries, there are going to be more than enough options for you -- whether you leverage [predictive analytics] internally or you outsource that. Instead, the real distinction will be the caliber of the questions the organization is pursuing, and the allocation of those resources against the finite capacity to get after problems. But in terms of just having that specific capability, it will be more of a commodity than what it is today."
-- Ruben Sigala, chief analytics officer, Caesars Entertainment

On whether a majority of analytics apps will be in the cloud

Mark SherwoodMark Sherwood

"Maybe not security itself, but the fear of a lack of security is going to slow that down -- whether [the fear] is true or it's perceived."
-- Mark Sherwood, senior director of global business systems, Cisco

"Absolutely not, and I believe it's from a fear perspective. Certain organizations have enough power to block this indefinitely for security and fear reasons. And we will get past it, but two years? No way."
-- Gregory Lewandowski, senior manager, analytics center, Cisco

On the state of text analytics

"This may be me just having my blinders on, but there's just so much more I could do with my structured data. It would be cool and sexy to go work on some unstructured stuff, but I think I'd be leaving money on the table. It's not like we've said, 'You know what, I've squeezed every penny out of my structured data and now I've got to go to the next level.' If you guys feel that way, congratulations, but I've got a long way to go still."
-- Zahir Balaporia, director, intermodal operations, Schneider

"Our CEO refers to this at times as a chest-thumping exercise to demonstrate something that catches a buzz worthy headline. But relative to all of the other things we should be dedicating our resources to, is that the one we should be bleeding edge in? Frankly, I think most organizations haven't quite figured that out."
-- Ruben Sigala, chief analytics officer, Caesars Entertainment

On who will 'own' BI

More on BI and analytics trends

CIOs should prepare for a BI battle royale

Embedded analytics marches ahead in 2014

Analytics and the lean craze

"We're seeing a shift in terms of ownership around business intelligence and analytics. Especially with some of the tools out there that are more business-friendly, you're getting an opportunity where the business can actually own some of this, and IT can own some of this. And you're seeing some [hybrid] organizations, like ours -- we're not IT and we're not the business. We report up into the COO, so it's an operations function. As that becomes more potentially decentralized, you get away from that traditional owner -- that good guy/bad guy, owner/not owner [dynamic] -- and everyone starts to own this, which makes it harder to point a finger."
-- Mark Sherwood, senior director of global business systems, Cisco

Let us know what you think of the story; email Nicole Laskowski, senior news writer, or find her on Twitter @TT_Nicole.

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