Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dresner’s Point: Don’t Overlook the Zigzagging of Collaboration & Text Analytics

Missed the boat. Didn’t gather enough steam. All that glitters isn’t gold. These pronouncements are often the verdict when technology evolves quickly and some functionalities or features don’t grab a strong enough hold quickly enough in the market. But applying that verdict to collaboration BI as well as social media and text analytics would be a mistake, even though they haven’t met expectations.

Collaboration BI
At one of my weekly #BIWisdom tweetchats this month, collaboration, social media and text analytics turned up in a discussion about 2013 BI predictions that didn’t pan out. The tweets started with one of the tribe commenting that “every year we hear collaboration BI will take off — but has it?”
I commented to the group that our annual Wisdom of Crowds® Business Intelligence Market Study revealed in 2013 that collaboration in BI is hotter than ever, but it declined somewhat in favor of email as the preferred collaboration tool.
That was quickly followed up with a participant’s tweet that she saw two new BI products this month that offer collaboration as their core feature.
Then came a bunch of opinions from the group on why collaborative BI is difficult to adopt. Here’s their collective viewpoint:
• “Collaboration must have a foundation in the business; it’s not something that can be pushed from a BI tool.”
• “Collaboration is a business issue, not a BI issue. Technology is a facilitator, not the solution.”
• “True BI equals transparency. It tends to let the skeletons out of the closet.”
• “Many adoption issues are related a cultural shift. The technology highlights how poor change management is in many organizations. Prior to implementing the collaboration technology, the lack of change management was hidden below the surface.”
I agree! In fact I wrote a book about the Achilles heel in BI performance: success requires change management, not just technology.
Text analytics and social media
These two aspects of BI products have bagged some successes, yet our 2013 Wisdom of Crowds® Business Intelligence Market Study indicated a failing interest in both social media and text analytics. I asked the #BIWisdom tribe of buyers, vendors and consultants for their opinions on the factors behind this finding.
Here’s their real-world wisdom:
The value
• “Analysts have said there is more to be gained in ‘dark data’ around the enterprise than in social media data/sentiment.”
• “But what analysts say and what business wants sometimes differs. It’s a question of perspectives and relative value.”
The technology
• “I’m not sure the state-of-the-art technology is good enough yet.”
• “Text analysis and social media require extra effort, which increases the time to value. Vendors need to automate and decrease that effort.”
• “I tested a social analytics tool; I was less than impressed. It was keyboard based and turned up a lot of false positives.”
• “This needs more machine learning algorithms than most tools use today. Social analytics that lack natural language and sentiment analysis are of very limited value. Keywords won’t cut it.”
• “In text analytics the ability to combine analysis of text + numbers is key.”
• “Point-in-time relevance is an important component of using text and social media data. The data gets stale too quickly. Need speed.”
The demand
• “We keep hearing from clients that they want it!”
• “Companies want it but aren’t really sure what they need. I think it will be like CRM in the 1990s, a distracting shiny object until it’s better understood.”
• “It’s not like ERP data analysis, but we find the interest is still there. The question is how to do it well.”
Bottom line: What can we conclude from the fact that adoption of BI collaboration, social media and text analytics fell short of expectations in 2013? Don’t count them out of the picture. Although their journey to greater adoption zigzagged over the past year, customers want these functionalities to help create greater value as they build on their prior business intelligence successes. In fact, text analytics had a strong showing in the #BIWisdom group’s plans and aspirations for 2014. These three functionalities in BI technology are not yet in the ninth inning. Look for an upswing in adoption.
Howard Dresner is president, founder and chief research officer at Dresner Advisory Services, LLC, an independent advisory firm. He is one of the foremost thought leaders in Business Intelligence and Performance Management, having coined the term “Business Intelligence” in 1989. He has published two books on the subject, The Performance Management Revolution — Business Results through Insight and Action, and Profiles in Performance — Business Intelligence Journeys and the Roadmap for Change. He hosts a weekly tweet chat (#BIWisdom) on Twitter each Friday. Prior to Dresner Advisory Services, Howard served as chief strategy officer at Hyperion Solutions and was a research fellow at Gartner, where he led its Business Intelligence research practice for 13 years.