Many years ago, industry pundits began pointing out the need to marry data analysis tools with operational systems to maximize your enterprise's competitiveness. In response, many companies were created to provide these analysis tools. This gave rise to the industry known as business intelligence. A few years ago, these same pundits began saying you need more than a tool – you need an analytics platform to build sophisticated analytics solutions. Seemingly overnight, every data analysis tool vendor's marketing materials spoke about its products as analytics platforms. Pundits have taken the next step. Now, they say, the real answer lies in providing analytic applications. Almost every vendor now claims to provide analytic applications.

You can't blame the vendors for talking about their products. However, we are left with crucial questions: What are the components of an analytic application? How should such a system be developed and executed? Is it advantageous to choose a prepackaged solution over a custom design/build/integrate model?

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