As a part of my work, I often meet organisations, mostly in manufacturing and retail, who would like to adopt advanced analytics but are not sure where to start. One reason being that advanced analytics has been an ‘intellectual property’ of a core group of people. It is often accused of being complex to comprehend and almost impossible to deploy in a way that can be understood and used by business.
SAS’s new edge offerings have seen business users start talking about the following trends:
Democratisation of Analytics
Analytics for everybody is not a slogan but reflects the fact business decision makers need information at their fingertips. More often than not, they don’t know beforehand about the intelligence they need to make the best decision.
Citizen Data Scientist
No longer the exclusive province of statisticians and specialists - analytics is for all of us as we become more data-driven and analytical in our thinking and our work. Analytical tools like SAS® Viya aim to counteract the shortage of specialised statisticians. I would ask the manufacturing community to sample first-hand how easily they can build advanced models, like neural networks, in a matter of minutes to find out about quality issues in the production line. With a bit more interest they can fine-tune the model with a drag and drop Graphical User Interface (GUI) and make it near perfect, which might otherwise take days for their elite data scientist counterpart. The time to value would surprise many. And all of it is a web-based tool with zero IT approval and pay-as-you-go model.
Engineers believe in God; for everything else they need proof
In my experience, engineers in manufacturing organisations who make day-to-day decisions (say about production quality or equipment failure) can do better if they become a part of the intelligence churning process and feel confident about it. Unfortunately, data scientists or advanced analytics are not always aligned to the department that makes decisions. The mismatch of ownership – between domain knowledge and analytics expertize - often creates friction resulting in data driven solutions being discarded.
Proliferation of analytics users in you and me will only increase. Vendors are making conscious efforts to simplify and widen adoption. The sooner we embrace this and empower decision-makers, the better those decisions are going to be.