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This year presents much opportunity for organizations to use a new generation of technology to compete better, be more efficient in their business operations and engage their workforces to their full potential. We have identified and begun to track the following next-generation technologies: analytics, big data, VentanaResearchLogo300pxcollaboration, cloud computing, mobile technology and social media, and in 2014 we added wearable computing to the list. In 2015 we will intensify our focus on all of them specifically in our research agenda and as part of our line of business research agendas.

Shifting to next-generation technologies in business processes can not only add new capabilities but help reduce the high cost of maintaining existing systems. Inefficient legacy systems and outdated approaches often hold back the potential of a business by consuming time and resources and forcing people to spend time on tasks that impede productivity and don’t add value to the business. Many organizations also are concerned with simplifying governance, risk and compliance of their business processes and workforce activities. Fully engaging the workforce is a concern for executives and providing a self-Untitled 2service approach to human resources and related information can help improve the effectiveness of employees. To take advantage of new technologies business users and managers must get involved and work with IT professionals in evaluating and adopting technology ensuring the security of systems and underlying data. Our 2014 Ventana Research Business Technology and Leadership Awards recognize organizations that have taken steps to maximize use of these innovative technologies.

Among these next-generation technologies, last year our various research projects made clear that analytics is the top technology priority for businesses; many organizations invested in  this area and also in data preparation to produce reliable, standardized data. After decades of leaving management of business intelligence tools to IT, the lines of business have taken an active role to acquire a better understanding of what is required for analysts and business professionals who are held accountable for the outcomes of their activities and need capable tools to access metrics and facilitate improvement. Many business areas asserted themselves in applying analytics to business processes, including finance, human resources, operations, the supply chain, sales, marketing and customer service. Many organizations are using timely metrics derived from analytics and made easy to read in dashboards, and more of them are coming to see the value of applying predictive analytics and data discovery to identify opportunities and view them through visualization methods. Those on the leading edge represent the results of analysis in geographic and natural-language contexts known as narratives that can explain or tell a story from the actual data. Such means of presenting results can help analysts keep up with the demand for actionable information from business professionals.

Another new technology, big data, is intimately connected to vr_Big_Data_Analytics_12_benefits_of_visualizing_big_dataanalytics. This burden grows heavier with the proliferation of volumes; drawing on these sources organizations need big data analytics to become more intelligent and less dependent on individuals to decipher meaning from data. At the same time the flow of data and events from machines and what is called the Internet of Things in real time introduces new challenges that for operational intelligence systems that support event-focused information gathering and delivery processes. Our research into big data analytics finds that better communications and knowledge sharing was the top benefit organizations realized from applying analytics, which is enabled by presenting information in easily understand forms. A major benefit in visualizing big data is better understanding of content, according to 45 percent of organizations in our big data research. As types and volumes of data continue to increase, organizations will need robust strategies for analytics and data management, including selecting technologies that help them stay competitive and gain business advantage.

We saw advances in big data in 2014 as organizations began to move beyond use of standard RDBMSs to Hadoop and a vr_BDI_08_benefits_of_big_data_integrationnew generation of big data machines that are blending technologies and approaches. Hadoop-focused technology companies received significant amounts of investment capital to continue their efforts, and it is clear that these systems must become part of enterprise and information architectures, focusing attention on how to integrate them. Advances in big data and information management revealed an increasing need for information optimization, which focuses on getting information to business professionals in actionable forms. This information need requires efficient integration of data across systems both in the enterprise and in cloud computing environments. In our research into big data integration 39 percent of organizations said it is important to make information available in a consistent manner. Big data will be more important for organizations in 2015, and they should not be overlook its integration with analytics and business operations.

Cloud computing is an increasingly popular option as businesses try to deal with the flood of data and learn from it. In 2014, it became even more widespread in a variety of private and public vr_BDI_07_types_of_data_integration_processesapproaches. But many organizations are still holding on to on-premises systems, many of which have become antiquated and expensive to maintain. Most suppliers of business applications and tools now offer cloud deployment through their own or leased data center facilities or environments such as Amazon Web Services. Some businesses can reduce significantly the load on IT by packaging their specific environments through virtualization and deploying them in the cloud. Essentially cloud computing is a means to onboard and use applications more easily and reduce the overhead of paying in-house IT professionals responsible for implementation, maintenance and upgrades of business systems. Our research shows that cloud computing has declined Untitledimportance in technology innovation, but we attribute this to its acceptance as a method for accessing and licensing software. However, cloud computing has become a more important priority regarding integration of data; one-quarter of organizations in our big data integration research said that is a priority now and through 2016.

Collaboration technology, both business and social, which enables business professionals to interact in a variety of methods, is gaining traction more slowly than others as technology suppliers focus more on designing the user experience than the interactions. But we find that business professionals recognize the importance of collaboration across the lines of business. In our benchmark research on next-generation customer analytics collaboration was deemed important more than the other next-generation, selected by almost two-thirds (62%) of organizations. A key purpose of this technology is to streamline the activities that involve groups of individuals; doing that can improve business process effectiveness. The most widely used methods are well established, such as discussion forums and videoconferencing, but social media approaches including activity streams, broadcasts and postings are increasing in importance; social recognition for contributing to or accomplishing tasks is the social collaboration method most organizations are planning to use (29%).  The approach called gamification, which involves earning badges and awards in contests, is a method that 37 percent are planning to use or evaluating. If implemented properly and in tight conjunction with applications, collaboration can raise the level of interaction and engagement among the workforce and ultimately increase efficiency and outcomes. Embedding collaboration in business processes and applications should be a focal point in 2015.

In the area of mobile technology, business use of smartphones and tablets advanced in 2014, and more is still to come. The diversity of devices running Apple, Android and even Microsoft mobile operating systems being brought in by workers makes it challenge to establish a standard set of applications for business. The most common preference is for Apple smartphones (57%) and tablets (67%), with Google Android being a distant second, in one-fifth of organizations, and Microsoft Mobile trailing at 5 to 8 percent, according to our next-generation learning management research. Even so “bring your own device” (BYOD) maintains a strong presence in many organizations.

Nor have suppliers of mobile applications standardized on a common user experience that can operate natively across devices and does not require the pinching of fingers to zoom in and out of the application to operate it. While this might seem a simple goal, it requires significant investment by suppliers to realize it. Additionally, suppliers hesitate to commit as they assess the level of demand for Microsoft Surface tablets, for which Microsoft had challenge in 2014 and appears headed for more changes in 2015. However, manufacturers of notebooks running Microsoft Windows continue to make them smaller and thinner with touch-screen interfaces, becoming closer to tablet size and usage styles; still most software providers have yet to invest in converting their applications to touch and gesture based on Windows 8 and now Windows 10. For their part, business organizations should begin to rationalize their mobile approach and communicate priorities to their main software suppliers to ensure that their employees can truly be mobile.

The newest entry in mobile technology is wearable computing that enables people to attach technology to their bodies in the forms of watches, jewelry or clothes. This advance in miniaturization has introduced devices that can assist business users through receiving notifications and other communications to tracking the relation of time worked to tasks accomplished. In 2014 we awarded Apple the Technology Innovation Award for the Apple Watch, which is taking the first generation of smart watches to the next level of biometric and commerce enablement. Health and wellness use of technologies such as FitBit and others have advanced past prototype phases and into production. Most interesting is gamification of the wellness information collected in real time from individuals or manually entered data; it has generated contests and inspired motivation for improvement. In 2014 only small steps were taken by a few workforce management Ventana_Research_Benchmark_Logovendors to build prototypes and initial versions of such devices for time and attendance along with notifications. The potential of these devices in sales, field service and workforce management applications is significant, but software suppliers will need organizations interested in taking a leading edge to commit to the technologies to justify expanding their R&D investments. Organizations seeking to engage and improve the productivity, safety and wellness of their workers could find wearable computing a useful business tool within three years.

In evaluating any of these next-generation technologies functionality alone is not a sufficient consideration. Issues of usability, manageability and reliability appear to be as important to organizations, or more so, in all of our benchmark research in 2014. In particular, usability and the user experience for all roles and competencies is not to be underestimated. Software must be able to adapt to and support the tasks and responsibilities of its users, but we find that many technology suppliers are still not taking this as seriously as they should in their R&D efforts. In addition companies striving to improve their performance should consider people, process, information and technology in a balanced approach to gain the best possible outcomes from any technology investment. Organizations should refocus their RFI and RFP methods to ensure they select technology that can serve all the intended roles and responsibilities of their organization.

To learn more about our business technology innovation research agenda for 2015, please download the presentation to see how you can supercharge your business with technology.Ventana_Research_2014_Tech_Innovation_Award_Main To see what your peers and leading suppliers are doing, check our Ventana Research Technology Innovation Awards. For more personal discussions of advanced technology for business, tune in the replay of the 2014 Ventana Research Summit to hear presentations and panels on the topics I have discussed here. It looks like 2015 will be a big year for technology advancements, and businesses will need to be prepared and ready to embrace what they need to be as successful as possible in their business processes and outcomes.


Mark Smith

CEO and Chief Research Officer

vr_Big_Data_Analytics_02_defining_big_data_analyticsTeradata continues to expand its information management and analytics technology for big data to meet growing demand. My analysis last year discussed Teradata’s approach to big data in the context of its distributed computing and data architecture. I recently got an update on the company’s strategy and products at the annual Teradata analyst summit. Our big data analytics research finds that a broad approach to big data is wise: Three-quarters of organizations want analytics to access data from all sources and not just one specific to big data. This inclusive approach is what Teradata as designed its architectural and technological approach in managing the access, storage and use of data and analytics.

Teradata has advanced its data warehouse appliance and database technologies to unify in-memory and distributed computing with Hadoop, other databases and NoSQL in one architecture; this enables it to move to center stage of the big data market. Teradata Intelligent Memory provides optimal accessibility to data based on usage characteristics for DBAs, analysts and business users consuming data from Teradata’s Unified Data Architecture (UDA). Teradata also introduced QueryGrid technology, which virtualizes distributed access to and processing of data across many sources, including the Teradata range of appliances, Teradata Aster technology, Hadoop through its SQL-H, other databases including Oracle’s and data sources including the SAS, Perl, Python and even R languages. Teradata can provide push-down processing of getting data and analytics processed through parallel execution in its UDA including data from Hadoop. Teradata QueryGrid data virtualization layer can dynamically access data and compute analytics as needed making it versatile to meet a broadening scope of big data needs.

Teradata has embraced Hadoop through a strategic relationship with Hortonworks. Its commercial distribution, Teradata Open Distribution for Hadoop (TDH) 2.1, and originates from Hortonworks. It recently announced Teradata Portfolio for Hadoop 2, which has many components. There is also a new Teradata Appliance for Hadoop; this is its fourth-generation machine and includes previously integrated and configured software with the hardware and services. Teradata has embraced and integrated Hadoop into its UDA to ensure it is a unified part of its product portfolio that is essential as Hadoop is still maturing and is not ready to operate in a fully managed and scalable environment.

Teradata has enhanced its existing portfolio of workload-specific appliances. It includes the Integrated Big Data Platform 1700, which handles up to 234 petabytes, the Integrated Data Warehouses 2750 for up to 21 petabytes for scalable data warehousing and the 6750 for balanced active data warehousing. Each appliance is configured for enterprise-class needs, works in a multisystem environment and supports balancing and shifting of workloads with high availability and disaster recovery. They are available in a variety of ratios including disks, arrays and nodes, which makes them uniquely focused for enterprise use. The appliances run version 15 of the Teradata database with Teradata Intelligent Memory and interoperate through integrated workload management. In a virtual data warehouse the appliances can provide maximum compute power, capacity and concurrent user potential for heavy work such as connecting to Hadoop and Teradata Aster. UDA enables distributed management and operations of workload-specific platforms to use data assets efficiently. Teradata Unity now is more robust in moving and loading data, and Ecosystem Manager now supports monitoring of Aster and Hadoop systems across the entire range of data managed by Teradata.

Teradata is entering the market for legacy SAP applications with Teradata Analytics for SAP, which provides integration and data models across lines of business to use logical data from SAP applications more efficiently. Teradata acquired this product from a small company in last year; it uses an approach common among data integration technologies today and can make data readily available through new access points to SAP HANA. The product can help organizations that have not committed to SAP and its technology roadmap, which proposes using SAP HANA to streamline processing of data and analytics from business applications such as CRM and ERP. For others that are moving to SAP, Teradata Analytics for SAP can provide interim support for existing SAP applications.

Teradata continues to advance JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) integration for support of document-oriented databases that are schemaless and semistructured. JSON has become a critical tool as more applications need to store and access data efficiently. NoSQL databases have become more popular recently: 25 percent of organizations in our big data analytics research are using them today, 20 percent  plan to use them within two years, and another 23 percent are evaluating NoSQL. With this focus Teradata provides for its customers application and operational support beyond just supporting data for analytic purposes.

Teradata continues expansion of its Aster Discovery Platform to process analytics for discovery and exploration and also advances visualization and interactivity with analytics, which could encroach on partners that provide advanced analytics capabilities like discovery and exploration. Organizations looking for analytic discovery tools should consider this technology overlap. Teradata provides a broad and integrated big data platform and architecture with advanced resource management to process data and analytics efficiently. In addition it provides archiving, auditing and compliance support for enterprises. It can support a range of data refining tasks including fast data landing and staging, lower workload concurrency, and multistructured and file-based data.

Teradata efforts are also supported in what I call a big data or data warehouse as a service and is called Teradata Cloud. Its approach is can operate across and be accessed from a multitenant environment where it makes its portfolio of Teradata, Aster and Hadoop available in what they call cloud compute units. This can be used in a variety of cloud computing approaches including public, private, hybrid and for backup and discovery needs. It has gained brand name customers like BevMo and Netflix who have been public references on their support of Teradata Cloud. Utilizing this cloud computing approach eliminates the need for placing Teradata appliances in the data center while providing maximum value from the technology. Teradata advancements in cloud computing comes at a perfect time where our information optimization research finds that a quarter of organizations now prefer a cloud computing approach with eight percent prefer it to be hosted by a supplier in a specific private cloud approach.

vr_Info_Optimization_10_reasons_to_change_information_availabilityWhat makes Teradata’s direction unique is moving beyond its own appliances to embrace the enterprise architecture and existing data sources; this makes it more inclusive in access than other big data approaches like those from Hadoop providers and in-memory approaches that focus more on themselves than their customers’ actual needs. Data architectures have become more complex with Hadoop, in-memory, NoSQL and appliances all in the mix. Teradata has gathered this broad range of database technology into a unified approach while integrating its products directly with those of other vendors. This inclusive approach is timely as organizations are changing how they make information available, and our information optimization benchmark research finds improving operational efficiency (for 67%) and gaining a competitive advantage (63%) to be the top two reasons for doing that. Teradata’s approach to big data helps broaden data architectures, which will help organizations in the long run. If you have not considered Teradata and its UDA and new QueryGrid technologies for your enterprise architecture, I recommend looking at them.


Mark Smith

CEO & Chief Research Officer

Mark Smith – Twitter

Ventana Research

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