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Big data exploration and analytics for CIOs: Oh, the places you'll go

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Ford's connected car revs up with APIs and external app developers

Ford's connected car, Gartner's Magic Quadrant for BI platforms and Forrester's new Hadoop Wave report: The Data Mill reports.

Ford Motor Co. has been getting the mobility trend for a while now. But in its endeavor to build the smartest connected car around, the automaker is taking mobile to another level. "How do we take the experiences customers have on mobile devices and bring them into the vehicle?" Jim Buczkowski, director of electrical and electronics systems for Ford Motor Co., said at Xconomy Forum's "Mobile Madness 2014: The Next Disruptors."

The Data MillMelding these two mobile experiences is tricky. While Apple spits out a new version of the iPhone every 18 months or so, the production cycle for cars -- connected or otherwise -- is of course slower. "So how do you embrace those two cycles?" Buczkowski said.

Ford's answer is to build technology that lets applications live on the smartphone but work on the connected car. The car company launched a program that enables external developers to hook into Ford's communications connectivity system, Sync, through a collection of application programming interfaces (APIs) called AppLink. The APIs give developers access to Ford's voice and human-machine interfaces, which can be integrated into whatever mobile app they're building. That means drivers can access, say, their Pandora app through voice command without lifting a finger. (As a final production step, the app is tested by Ford.)

"Sixty apps work with the AppLink product, and the ability for an app developer to get on board with Sync and AppLink is faster than other approaches," Buczkowski said.

BI vendors level the playing field

The big reveal in 2014's Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms? The disruption of traditional business intelligence (BI) platforms by data discovery vendors is slowing down. The report notes that 2013 was a year when megavendors such as IBM, SAP and Oracle continued playing catch-up -- hard-ball style -- to data discovery disruptors such as Tableau, TIBCO Software and Qlik, but those same disruptors struggled to make the leap in providing enterprise-grade features such as governance capabilities and scalability.

Get ready for the playing field to level out in 2014. Gartner Inc. authors Rita L. Sallam, Joao Tapadinhas, Josh Parenteau, Daniel Yuen and Bill Hostmann said they expect the disruptors and megavendors alike to add new features to data discovery tools and give products a renewed focus. In Qlik's case, that translates into a newly re-architected platform designed specifically for the enterprise, which will make its debut later this year.

On the established-vendor side, the report highlighted SAS as having "made one of the boldest moves of any vendor with its plans to replace its current enterprise BI platform (where it is integrated across the rest of its application and decision management stack) with Visual Analytics."

Other notables from the annual report card? Cloud BI is on the rise and the most populated quadrant is the one labeled "niche players"; plus, get ready for "smart" data discovery and data preparation, which includes automatic semantic identification and automated advanced analytics for the less technically literate.

And the winners, aka Magic Quadrant "leaders," are: Tableau, Qlik, Microsoft, IBM, SAP, SAS, TIBCO, Oracle, MicroStrategy and Information Builders.

A new analytics Magic Quadrant makes its debut

Gartner also released its first ever Magic Quadrant for Advanced Analytics Platforms, a $2 billion market that includes both predictive analytics and data mining. The advanced analytics market isn't new -- it's been around for 20 years. But tools that give businesses the chance to grapple with big data and new sources of data while avoiding whatever skills gap might exist in the enterprise are in high demand, according to the report. The authors of this inaugural report encourage businesses to break out of the traditional vendors box, noting that these vendors will "remain realistic options" but "will struggle to keep pace with the innovation of newer entrants."

Leaders in this Magic Quadrant, authored by analysts Gareth Herschel, Alexander Linden and Lisa Kart, are SAS, IBM, RapidMiner and KNIME.

Previously on
The Data Mill

External social platforms replace the company intranet

Is contextual computing the love child of big data, IoT and mobility?

Integration woes make it hard for users to embrace new apps

Hadoop now a must-have for the enterprise?

As the market for big data tools and technologies continues to expand, a new Wave report by Forrester Research Inc. called "Big Data Hadoop Solutions, Q1 2014"might come in handy for CIOs.

Mike Gualtieri and Noel Yuhanna, the report's authors, focus solely on Hadoop because they believe it's "a must-have data platform for large enterprises, forming the cornerstone of any flexible future data management platform." Besides, the report breathlessly continues, "Hadoop is unstoppable as its open source roots grow wildly and deeply into enterprises."

Of course, CIOs should bring a cool head to this march of Hadoop madness. The Forrester experts advise IT leaders to first determine if Hadoop is the right solution for them; then they'll need to determine what kind of commercial distribution best suits the business. The report focuses on three different distribution possibilities for customers:

  • Apache open source or downloading the software without a distributor. "Customers who choose this route must cobble together a complete solution and forgo the formal support that the commercial vendors offer," the report states.
  • Pure-play Hadoop distribution vendors such as Cloudera and Hortonworks.
  • Enterprise vendors with Hadoop distributions such as Oracle and IBM.

Leaders in this Wave report are Amazon Web Services, Cloudera, Hortonworks, IBM, MapR Technologies, Pivotal Software and Teradata. Strong performers are Intel and Microsoft.

Welcome to The Data Mill, a weekly column devoted to all things data. Heard something newsy (or gossipy)? Email me or find me on Twitter at @TT_Nicole.

This was first published in March 2014

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Essential Guide

Big data exploration and analytics for CIOs: Oh, the places you'll go
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