Business intelligence is dead and self-service analytics have taken over as businesses are gathering more data than ever before through their digital presence and investment in smart business applications.

Smart business applications bridge the gap between BI and business applications by embedding analytics inside of already existing business software. While the fight for self-service discovery has been over for quite some time, according to recent research from Gartner, by 2018, the new challenge for analytics vendors will be creating products that align with smart business application requirements.

In order to remain relevant and competitive in the market, BI vendors need to ensure that their solution can deliver agile centralized BI provisioning, decentralized analytics, governed data discovery, embedded BI and extranet deployment in order to keep up with the modern BI landscape.

If organizations don’t start investing in the right tools, right now, they will fall behind competitors, and those vendors not ensuring that their solutions have the above mentioned capabilities will lose their differentiation in the market.

Most software vendors are (or will be) embedding analytics within their own applications because it creates a high-value upgrade path. Enterprises are creating analytic packages to boost performance among their built-in networks of agents, franchises or storefronts.

Smarter enterprises are using data assets and analytics as the foundation for defining new product lines upon which to accelerate their growth in the digital era. Smart business applications are about the business user rather than the analyst. These applications put insights into the hands of everyone within an organization, eliminating the need to hire additional data scientists and making the process of responding to queries much more efficient.

The race for investment in smart business applications is the real tipping point in the analytics market, and here are three of the most impactful benefits your business will experience:

Revenue through Digital Differentiation

Beyond your mobile apps; embedded and packaged analytics as well as bespoke data products can define your digital differentiator, and drive revenue. Most organizations gather small and large forms of data, and business leaders are recognizing the value within.

Organizations need to take this underutilized data to the next step and figure out a way to deliver actionable insights to appropriate business networks. Enterprises need to think like software vendors, or find a partner to help advise their decisions.

Agility of Cloud Analytics

While data discovery tools offer immediate insights to internal users, cloud delivery offers a seamless experience for technologists and pragmatists. Ideal cloud platforms offer invisible scalability that do not tax internal IT resources as the applications grow. They incorporate regular upgrades such that no component is out of date nor vulnerable. They integrate with their cloud-based peers such as operational business applications, social communities and complementary platforms. And finally, they support and encourage the management of change, which analytics require.

As users consume insights, they change their questions and analytic needs in near real-time. Smart business applications are born from the cloud, where computing resources are abundant and dynamic. These applications are nimble, and carry forward the best of both the self-service discovery market, combined with the best cloud delivery models that support scale, multi-tenant security, auto updates, engagement monitoring and analytic lifecycle management functions. These applications encourage collaboration across networks of insights spawned from the whole community.

Fast Feedback Route and Guidance

In order to harness better collaboration and change within the business, feedback capture must be built-in to smart business applications. This feedback influences applications to evolve in the right direction, based on user activity. Ideal platforms will not only evaluate the activity in each smart business application, but also provide insights across countless similar applications.

These connected insights can help launch data products in the right direction, as well as help novice users become better analysts on their first try. The organizations that act quickly and prioritize smart business applications and data products will be able to differentiate against their competitors sooner.

Traditional vendors who supply IT-developed, descriptive, and regularly scheduled enterprise reporting solutions, are moving quickly towards extinction. These vendors were unable to effectively support big data, cloud data sources, cloud development or agile delivery. They also failed at mobile and "in-memory" architectures that were intended to improve scalability and agility in non-virtualized data centers.

Business users have won the battle with IT over responsiveness, and self-service, which explains the rise of data discovery products, while those same IT people retreat to focus on data governance, big data and IoT technology. The two sides will re-converge as IT people and business users realize that smart business applications that reach extended business networks will drive their digital differentiation, and will be as important to the survival of their organization as their traditional product offering was a decade ago.

(About the author: Roman Stanek is a passionate entrepreneur and industry thought leader with over 20 years of high-tech experience. His latest venture is GoodData where he serves as CEO. Good Data was founded in 2007 with the mission to disrupt the business intelligence space and monetize big data. Prior to GoodData, Roman was founder and CEO of NetBeans, the leading Java development environment (acquired by Sun Microsystems in 1999) and Systinet, a leading SOA governance platform (acquired by Mercury Interactive, later Hewlett Packard, in 2006).

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