Here are filtered analytics industry highlights from the sweltering month of July. Augmented analytics, automation, data privacy, artificial intelligence and increased anti-trust concerns dominated the news. Don’t forget you can also keep track of these filtered updates on my Alerts page and or IndustryPulse.com.
Augmented Analytics aka Smart Data Discovery
Let’s begin with a topic that is near and dear to my heart – intelligent automated analytics. Gartner just released a report, “Augmented Analytics Is the Future of Data and Analytics” that I have been highly anticipating and can’t wait to read. For readers that are not Gartner subscribers, check out Rita Sallam’s article to get a brief overview of that report.
Loyal readers know that I have been following the analytics automation space and early entrants BeyondCore now Salesforce Einstein Discovery, IBM Watson Analytics, Data Robot, and others for several years. Tellius surprised and impressed me earlier this year in a solution review. I’ll be covering their latest innovations on August 16 with their lead data scientist. This area of analytics is exciting. It will change our profession once again, deliver more business value and improve how you work.
Birst Awarded Smart Data Prep and Discovery Patents
While on the topic of smart data discovery, Birst announced that it was awarded two new patents for technologies that enable the smart preparation, discovery and visualization of data. Birst is one of the top Cloud BI players that was was bought by Infor earlier this year to supplement their analytics portfolio in the cloud space. Infor has cloud ERP and analytical applications for budgeting, planning, and forecasting.
“Constructing Reports Using Metric-Attribute Combinations” (U.S. Patent No.: 9,652,516) covers the general process of measuring the relative importance of various attributes on metrics – and automatically generating reports, dashboards and visualizations based on that. Birst utilizes technology in this patent for its One-Click Smart Visualization, which leverages machine learning to intelligently discover the most business-critical relationships between hundreds of columns of data. One-Click Smart Visualization uses smart technologies to select the appropriate visualizations and automatically builds and displays a set of visualizations in dashboards.
“Automatic Data Warehouse Generation Using Automatically Generated Schema” (U.S. Patent No.: 9,483,537) is another broad patent, from which Birst developed its Automated Data Refinement (ADR) capability. ADR uses advanced algorithms to take highly disparate data from many different sources and instantly structure it in a simple, clear and consistent set of business metrics and attributes, so any user, regardless of skill set, can perform analytics.
When I was shown Birst’s Connected Data Prep in a briefing, I thought it was stellar. Datorama still seems to be have the best automated data prep with industry models that I have seen in reviewing numerous analytics solutions. Informatica Claire could be excellent…I don’t know since they don’t brief me. There could be even more of these solutions out there that have ignored me or that I have ignored. All in all, I am hearing more automation in integration from IBM, Datawatch, Talend, and other fantastic integration players.
H2O.ai Automated Feature Engineering
H2O.ai is one of cool start-up vendors that I follow. I covered their offering in my Spark big data analytics session. This group released a beta of an automated machine learning offering with automated feature engineering. For more information on this release, check out Driverless AI. I have not tested it yet but it certainly is interesting to see more of this happening. I first saw IBM automating feature engineering last year at IBM World of Watson. It was my favorite ” hidden gem” that I found at that event last year.
New OpenCPU 2.0 for Scalable R Apps and Services
OpenCPU for embedding R into web application has a huge new 2.0 release. I covered this solution before and that article always is in my top most read articles of the day. I’d love to know why?!? It is a total mystery to me.
OpenCPU 2.0 makes it even easier to build and deploy R webapps. An app in OpenCPU is simply an R package which may include a web frontend that interacts with R functions from the same package via the OpenCPU API. By using the R package format as a container for shipping web applications OpenCPU apps natively support for dependencies, namespaces, embedded data, documentation, etc.
Apps can be run or deployed in many ways.
- Run or develop locally using the single user server in R using opencpu::ocpu_start_app()
- Deploy for free on <yourname>.ocpu.io or cloud.opencpu.org using the CI webhook
- Host your own opencpu-server, either internally or on the internet
- Ship and deploy apps in docker containers
Several example apps are available from rwebapps Github repository. You can try each app on the public cloud server or you can run it locally in R using the single-user server. For more information, check out the full press release posted to Industry Pulse.
Other Data Related News
This month’s biggest shocks were not from vendor announcements but rather from data privacy and mounting anti-trust concerns across tech industry worldwide. I don’t ever recall seeing as many articles from top news groups as I did this past month about fears of digital world domination by Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple and the other big tech vendor.
Notably one of the biggest stories this month was brought to my attention by Boris Evelson of Forrester Research. It is related to public web site data scraping. Public web site data scraping is widely used today for a variety of analytics use cases, data curation, market intelligence, and the growing practice of data monetization.
Keep an eye on this case. Lawyers from Harvard are engaged with one side citing this is a move to stifle competition by limiting use of data and the other claiming privacy concerns of users that have chosen to publicly display their career information. Last year Salesforce lost their appeal to regulators to block the LinkedIn deal also citing potential unfair competitive advantage if competitors were denied access to this one of a kind, business data source. The outcome of this case will influence the data economy. Many data usage laws are in flux and outdated. I expect we’ll see more cases like this popping up more frequently.
Another article, this one by Futurism, discusses the the power shift caused by data today. “The use of data has now become the most valuable asset in the world — it plays a fundamental role in what information the public receives, how we access resources, and how we consume. While data has become the biggest new resource in the world, it should not compromise our freedom or privacy. A common argument raised about privacy is that people opt-in by being online, which is their choice. However, there often is not much of a choice for individuals.”
Futurism continues to remind us that anti-trust laws allowed Google to grow. The creation of Silicon Valley also happened in part by IBM being forced to unbundle software from hardware. Several high profile court cases in Europe have been bought against technology giants over the last few years. This has triggered similar discussion in the United States.
Anti-trust laws were created at the end of the 19th century in order to break down monopolies that promoted abuse through pure corporate power. They establish the ground rules for the pursuit of profit in an economy, preventing cartels or mergers from becoming monopolies, eliminating competition, or unfairly exploiting markets. The first of these laws was the Sherman Act in 1890.
“The purpose of the [Sherman] Act is not to protect businesses from the working of the market; it is to protect the public from the failure of the market. The law directs itself not against conduct which is competitive, even severely so, but against conduct which unfairly tends to destroy competition itself.”
The law directs itself against conduct which unfairly destroys competition.
In recent years, anti-trust parameters have been narrowed down to define harming as raising prices or when more services are free.
Many consumer and business services today do get bundled or are made free by big tech vendors crushing competition. I see it… do you? From anti-virus to collaboration apps like Slack to marketing mass email apps such as MailChimp to workflow apps to invoicing apps, more and more apps are being bundled. Top niche business intelligence firms are dealing with this market dynamic. Microstrategy shared 19% year over year losses. We saw Qlik go private. We’ll hear from Tableau again soon. Update on August 2, 2017 – Tableau (DATA) beats by $1.6M. Reports 7%+ YoY growth, recurring revenue 47%+ YoY, subscription revenue 175%+ YoY.
It is concerning but we have seen this happen before. In the long run, if big tech gets complacent or doesn’t treat customers quite right, new opportunities arise for others to fill in the gaps. Thus the cycles start over again in a healthy market.
Right now I do not rely 100% on any one of the big tech vendors. If Amazon does not have Kellogg’s Special K Protein Chocolatey Dipped Mint Dessert-Inspired Meal Bar or charges me too much, I go to Wal-Mart.com to get them delivered to me. When I was fed up with malware and monitoring fears on my Windows laptop last month, I bought a MacBook Pro. If I become unhappy with Office 365, I’ll switch to G-Suite that all of my Silicon Valley customers use or try Zoho that seems to be making significant strides these days. Heck, I even installed Libre Office on my Mac. It works and can export to Office formats. I haven’t tried the Apple productivity apps yet but the nice Apple sales rep claims everyone uses them… hmm.
Today we do have choices. Although we’ll likely see more consolidation, world domination fears, anti-competitive tactics and data ownership fights over the coming years while our government is doing whatever you want to call it right now, I’m betting on markets cycling through this process once again. History does tend to repeat itself.
And with that…I’ll log off, hug my husband, spend quality time with the puppy and indulge in the simple things in life.