Gartner Inc. says advanced analytics is a top business priority today, fueled by the need to make advanced analysis accessible to more users and broaden insights into the business. Advanced analytics is the fastest-growing segment of the business intelligence (BI) and analytics software market, and surpassed $1 billion in 2013, the firm says.

"While advanced analytics have existed for over 20 years, big data has accelerated interest in the market and its position in the business," Alexander Linden, research director at Gartner, said in a statement. "Rather than being the domain of a few select groups—for example, marketing, risk—many more business functions now have a legitimate interest in this capability to help foster better decision making and improved business outcomes."

IT and business leaders must expand their efforts to move their organizations from using only traditional BI that addresses descriptive analysis to advanced analytics, which complements by answering the "why," the "what will happen," and "how we can address it" questions.

"While basic analytics provide a general summary of data, advanced analytics deliver deeper data knowledge and granular data analysis," Linden said.

The rewards of data-driven decision making can be a powerful boost to business outcomes, Gartner says. For example, clinical diagnosis applications apply analytics across a range of structured and unstructured sources, including electronic health records data, drug information, study data, and others, to recommend optimal treatment plans for individual patients.

But creating value from data requires a range of talents, the firm says, from data integration and preparation, to architecting specialized computing/database environments, to data mining and intelligent algorithms.

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