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Internet of Things and Embedded Analytics By @ABridgwater | @ThingsExpo [#IoT]
Analytics-enriched online applications are becoming the norm given our global propensity for using mobile applications

Embedded Analytics: Inside Apps, Inside Processes

Now is the age of information analytics. We have (very arguably) reached a point where the insight arising from data analytics can be applied to almost every aspect of a company, in every business vertical.

But what shape should that analytics be? Increasingly we talk about embedded analytics, but what do we mean? Should we be embedding analytics inside a) applications themselves, or should we b) look to embed analytics as business rules inside complete corporate processes - or should it be both?

Embedded (application) analytics
The argument for embedded (application) analytics hinges around the proposition that we can ‘enrich' our software if it has an intelligence engine (or engines plural) providing extra functionality in it somewhere. If that sounds too obtuse, then hold on just one paragraph please.

For example, a user uses a word processor or spreadsheet. Instead of simply working to crunch text or numbers, the app itself has a degree of embedded intelligence that it draws from an external computing source. Usually found in online connected applications, or indeed cloud-based virtualized apps - this type of enriched application is becoming the norm given our global propensity for using mobile (and therefore usually always-on connected) applications in the first place.

These technologies will sit close to Business Intelligence (BI), data integration tools and online analytical processing (OLAP) services - plus we will also focus here on data mining and 'extract, transform, load' (ETL) functionalities. In terms of facilitating technologies, let's also remember that Hadoop serves as a central processing hub here where ‘analytics-ready' data sets can be blended, refined, automatically-modeled and then automatically published directly to analytical databases (like HP Vertica for example) for deeper usage.

If this is analytics embedded into the application, then what of analytics embedded into the business processes.

... and so to process
Business analytics company SAS has featured extracts from a book entitled, "Analytics at Work: Smarter Decisions, Better Results" by Thomas Davenport, Jeanne Harris and Robert Morison. The authors discuss how companies apply analytics in their daily operations directly inside real business processes.

"Among business support functions, analytics are essential to many facets of finance, common in the management of technology operations, and relatively new to human resources (though of enormous potential there). In corporate development, key decisions - for example, regarding mergers and acquisitions - may benefit greatly from analytics, but few companies take a process approach to such activities," writes the group.

The writers talk about "sophisticated and industrialized" analytics for capacity planning, for routing packages through a distribution network, and for scheduling and routing deliveries.

A reactive ecosystem for operational intelligence
What makes analytics embedded into the business processes possible today is that we are moving closer to the point where these technologies can be brought into play in real time (or near real time) - and this means that they can become part of a kind of ‘reactive ecosystem for operational intelligence' in the modern workplace.

Davenport, Harris and Morison say that the effects of analytics on the operations of a process can be profound, and over time companies may want to reengineer the overall business process and revamp its information systems to capitalize on the potential for analytics-based improvement.

"But you can start embedding analytics without a major overhaul. For processes that rely extensively on enterprise systems, it may be possible to simply start taking advantage of the analytical capabilities that are already included in the software. However, many process analytics initiatives will require tools, techniques, and working relationships that are likely to be new and unfamiliar at first."

Should 360 degree embedded analytics be inside apps as well as inside processes and inside anything else? Well yes indeed... when it is real time, there is the potential to start broadening the world of analytics through many more layers of the enterprise, in smaller and larger firms alike.

Analytics will become a second nature element of business as fundamental as accounting - the time is near.


This post is brought to you by SAS.

SAS is a leader in business analytics software and services and the largest independent vendor in the business intelligence market.

About Adrian Bridgwater
Adrian Bridgwater is a freelance journalist and corporate content creation specialist focusing on cross platform software application development as well as all related aspects software engineering, project management and technology as a whole.

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