• Varun Saini

It’s time to solve a different problem in business analytics.

“If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 55 minutes defining the problem and five minutes resolving it." –Albert Einstein

Every once in a while, we need to reevaluate our approach to a problem. Sometimes it's because the current way of doing things is obsolete, and sometimes because the problem has evolved.

In the Business Analytics domain, the last decade has seen a lot of innovation around the expressibility of questions to be answered in an analysis. The logic is seemingly straightforward: Business users are not Analysts and find it hard to express questions in SQL. So if we make expressing the question easier, more business users will be able to ask questions and get answers, which will make their organizations more data-driven or at least data-aware.

Having made the Gartner Magic Quadrant at my last two companies (Tableau & Thoughtspot), I have seen firsthand the benefits when companies make decisions based on data and when more people have access to data insights. Unfortunately, the adoption of business intelligence (BI) tools has stayed below 35%. Over 80% of data projects fail, and the percentage of companies that identify themselves as data-driven is shrinking.

Making it easier to express questions was a worthwhile goal when data was dripping into spreadsheets in small volumes, and one could afford to wait a few days to take action. But today, that is no longer the case, and there are newer, bigger problems that businesses face when working with data. Notably, they deal with such massive collections of data that it's unrealistic to expect one or even many humans to comb through it all. No matter how easy it is to express questions.

To help companies harness the full potential of their data, we need to shift our focus and go beyond the approach that relies on asking questions and interactive dashboards. We need to cross the chasm between data-rich, insight- poor and insight-rich. We need a different approach.

"The more efficient you are at doing the wrong thing, the wronger you become. It is much better to do the right thing wronger than the wrong thing righter." — Russel Ackoff, Grandfather of Systems Thinking

What is the next right problem to solve with analytics?

Is it that businesses today want a prettier, more usable dashboard? Is it that users can't express their questions using SQL and need natural language or drag and drop? Is it that users have to express a precise question to get insights?

With an ever-increasing volume of data and number of dimensions, it is hard to imagine a future where automation doesn’t play a prominent role in insight identification. Automatic identification of insights that help users achieve their business goals is what is needed. Anything short is a disservice. Anything else is supplementary.

"Bad tools make you do more work. Good tools make you do less work. Great tools make you do the right thing."

The right thing for business owners & analysts is to focus on business outcomes. Business owners should spend time taking action on the information and not wrestle with the nuances of the analytics tool just so they can get something useful out of it. Any time spent by business users not evaluating an impactful insight is time wasted.

At Inference.io, we have set out to build a product that helps businesses use their data more effectively through automated analytics. We apply cutting-edge machine learning and automation techniques to your data to deliver proactive insights that drive impact on your business metrics and lead to better decisions. Inference.io helps you go from formulating questions to having answers.

Solve the right problem. Reach out to us at hello@inference.io to schedule a demo.