Yesterday we had a discussion and webinar with R “Ray” Wang, principal analyst and CEO of Constellation research discussing the future on analytics and our view that analytics should be available for all – everyone in the organization.  You can see the replay here.  We had a great turnout of prospective customers and appreciated the interest from legacy analytics companies as we talked about the needs of the organizations today and provided our insight into the future.

Ray hit on the macro trends moving the market – cloud, mobile, social, and the need for engagement, not to mention the challenge of big data. Among Ray’s insights:

• Relevance and Content – Information needs to be relevant and related and should include data from both structured data sources (ERP, database) and unstructured information (Twitter, data feeds, Word docs and Excel). There are point solutions that do one or the other, but not both together

• Collaboration and Context – Putting data together in ways that make sense, and then connecting everyone. This is a key gap today in most analytics on the market today

• Not real time, but right time – While everyone likes speed, Ray’s point was that people need analytics where they can use them to make changes and make something happen

These themes are common issues we see organizations struggling with on a daily basis. There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is legacy technology that is not equipped for modern, mobile oriented users and the reality of business speed today. Interestingly, maybe making things easier is the key.

When we asked the listeners for the biggest challenge in getting the value from analytics, the respondents on the webinar ranked their top 3 challenges as:

1. Steep learning curve
2. Lack of context
3. Organizational priorities around analytics

In practice, today’s enterprise analytics solutions from legacy vendors are made for very specialized use cases by highly specialized users, who have been trained to put up with bad user experience. Nobody running financial applications has anything good to say about user experience.  And nobody outside the finance department actually uses financial planning and budgeting applications, and rarely BI.  They just wait for the update plan spreadsheet to land in their email.

Most analytics packages, especially in finance, were never meant to be shared with the “average” business user – those of us who run the business – managing teams, driving deals, allocating capital, building campaigns, managing suppliers, coordinating support and working at delivering business value. Because the experience is not easy, and in context, business users don’t see value.  Instead they build more teams of business and financial analysts and experts to search for and try to decode the data and build the plan.

I suspect one of the big red herrings in analytics and big data discussions today is the supposed dependency on the lack of data scientists. Because legacy systems are so hard to use, business has defaulted to the idea that data scientists – eight years or more of specialized study and advance mathematic training – are required to really make sense of data and deliver value.  By extension, those of us who are data producers and business owners are still left to fend for ourselves and wait for outdated reports and statistical analysis that lacks context.

Maybe the real answer is that if users were given apps that were easy and intuitive to use, everyone could capture, as well as drive value for the organization. That would truly be innovation at scale. And it is likely to translate into better EPS.