San Jose -- The big deal about big data and other emergent technologies is business analytics, according to new benchmark research previewed in a keynote at the Ventana Research Business Technology Innovation Summit in San Jose this week.

The event marked the research group’s 10th anniversary as a provider of primary benchmark research and was keynoted by analysts headlined by Ventana founder and CEO Mark Smith.

Smith pointed to a decade of evolution not unlike what’s come before, marked by cycles of technology and skepticism. “We’ve all been around wasted technology investments with the best intentions,” he said, experiences that enterprises “are enduring, accomplishing and deriving value from.”

Unlike the now widespread practice of segmenting new technology innovations into areas of social, mobile, data/analytics and cloud, Ventana splits its competitive focus areas into six slices: business analytics, business/social collaboration; mobile apps; cloud; big data; and social media. Effectively, this gives separate entries for analytics, which cross multiple domains and lines of business, and big data, which refers to specific technologies like Hadoop and MapReduce. 

“These areas are each critical elements that are helping organizations drive competitive advantage, stay lean and drive efficiency in existing business processes,” Smith says.  Additionally, Ventana looks outside IT at how technology can drive change in finance, sales, HR, operations and marketing.

What are the things that matter the most?

In benchmark research of 4,000 organizations being released in coming days, a ranking of the top five priorities, Ventana found business analytics was cited as number one by 39 percent of organizations. Following business analytics, top priorities cited were mobile applications (15 percent) cloud computing (13 percent); big data (11 percent); and social media (6 percent).

One area beginning to find urgency is the importance of driving daily tasks and activities to a productive outcome. The real job in areas like workforce management going forward, Smith says, is to free time, not create tasks. The advancements of collaboration needs to be in technologies “that help the communications and interactions of daily tasks for individuals to know what they are working on, what they are achieving and hopefully, for organizations to give recognition back for a good job done.”

In this area too, business analytics “apply to every person in the organization,” Smith says.

A challenge now is to reduce time to insight. Driven by consumer social technologies, companies can find new ways to access and take advantage of more tools in the marketplace to easily subscribe to and deploy without resorting to a “consultant experiment.”

Companies need to think more about how individuals work and streamline what they need, Smith says, adding that more dashboards, pie charts and KPIs are not the answer because they don’t mean that anyone is going to know what to do with them. “Problems uncovered in root cause analysis are usually in processes and the progress of individuals in their roles. Yet organizations continue to publish more charts without guidance on their meaning.”

The frequency of use of analytics is shifting to a more hourly and daily basis, Ventana finds, and will increasingly be personalized. “Business analytics matter,” Smith says, and provide a method for organizations to drive communication, goals and knowledge sharing, the number one benefit cited in Ventana’s new studies among organizations using analytics for more than one year. Improved efficiency, faster response to threats, increased productivity and lower costs are all baseline benefits measured in the research.     

The sessions from the event are available in a video stream touching on all six areas of Ventana’s focus on innovative technologies. More findings will be available in coming days at ventanaresearch.com.