Business Analytics: Q&A With Teradata's CTO - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Mobile
News
4/29/2010
10:39 AM
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Business Analytics: Q&A With Teradata's CTO

Stephen Brobst makes a case for open access to data, simpler analytic tools and new forms of analysis for sources such as Facebook.

Stephen Brobst
Stephen Brobst
CTO, Teredata
For more on business intelligence, see Intelligent Enterprise.

Interest in advanced analytics is a good thing, says Stephen Brobst, CTO of data warehousing vendor Teradata. But don't expect much value from prebuilt analytic applications and simplistic spreadsheet analyses, he warns. To gain broader access to truly valuable insight, Brobst says we have to move away from walled-off warehouses and programming-driven analysis tools.

InformationWeek: There's growing interest in advanced analytics, but the shortage and expense of expertise has led many vendors to offering prepackaged industry solutions and applications. What are your thoughts on prebuilt analytic applications?

Stephen Brobst: Industry data models absolutely make sense. Customers and vendors are both moving in that direction because you don't need to build an industry data model from scratch. You can also prepackage analytics -- things like reports, key performance indicators and balanced scorecards -- but that's not where the value is. If look at truly innovative companies, let's take eBay as an example, 85 % of the resources they use for their data warehouse are for answering new questions. The answers to questions you already know are cheap because you can prepackage them and optimize the queries. You may have to keep running those report for regulatory purposes or just to keep your fingers on the pulse of the business, but once you run them a few times there are no new insight.

In my view, you want a set of tools that will let you ask questions you haven't asked before yet get answers efficiently without having preoptimized the query. If something is preoptimized, that inherently means that you already knew the question and the probable answers to the question.

InformationWeek: That assumes you have analytic experts available to ask new questions. Hasn't the scarcity and cost of expertise limited the use of advanced analytics?

Brobst: I think there's a cultural change going on whereby the MBAs coming up from the top universities are more quantitatively capable than they used to be. They are comfortable using analytic tools. The problem is that the tools they learn tend to be Excel and variations of Excel. It's better than the old style of qualitative decision making; they are data driven, but they don't really know how to do deep analytics. It's sort of spread-mart analytics, not tools that would enable you to do things like predictive forecasting beyond a linear regression you could do in Excel.

Excel is the most common BI tool in the world, but there are all kinds of governance challenges with spreadsheets. And though spreadsheets may be easy to use, they're not an example of best-in-class analytic capabilities. We have to raise the bar a little. The level of analytic sophistication is rising, but we have to get people out of the mindset that a spreadsheet is the answer.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Previous
1 of 3
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Slideshows
Top-Paying U.S. Cities for Data Scientists and Data Analysts
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  11/5/2019
Slideshows
10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2020
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  11/1/2019
Commentary
Study Proposes 5 Primary Traits of Innovation Leaders
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  11/8/2019
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
State of the Cloud
State of the Cloud
Cloud has drastically changed how IT organizations consume and deploy services in the digital age. This research report will delve into public, private and hybrid cloud adoption trends, with a special focus on infrastructure as a service and its role in the enterprise. Find out the challenges organizations are experiencing, and the technologies and strategies they are using to manage and mitigate those challenges today.
Video
Current Issue
Getting Started With Emerging Technologies
Looking to help your enterprise IT team ease the stress of putting new/emerging technologies such as AI, machine learning and IoT to work for their organizations? There are a few ways to get off on the right foot. In this report we share some expert advice on how to approach some of these seemingly daunting tech challenges.
Slideshows
Flash Poll