It seems we’ve been talking about data analytics for years.

What to do with ever-growing volumes of (particularly unstructured) data and the benefits of slice-and-dicing data to gain insight have been on the business radar for some time.

What has differed in this time are the solutions that have been pitched to solve the problem.

Ten years ago business intelligence was the panacea to the data analytics debate.

Over that time, the focus has shifted to predictive analytics, in-memory analytics, big data analytics, streaming analytics and more recently to data science, but all these flavours are effectively designed to resolve similar challenges.

The main thing that has evolved over the past decade are the statistical and computational models underpinning these analytics tools, according to Harvard Magazine.

“It is not the quantity of data that is revolutionary,” Weatherhead University Professor Gary King said.

“The big data revolution is that now we can do something with the data.”

One of the hopes for newer analytics engines and algorithms is that they will be more intuitive to query data.

We’re already seeing some evidence of this as companies like Woodside looks to put analytics on the desktops of regular employees rather than limit it to a small group of analysts or data scientists.

Woodside’s project involves software that allows people to use natural, everyday language to search archives of big data.

This kind of intuitive interface could finally allow companies to get really good at analytics.

Current evidence suggests that few companies really get good. Bain & Company research estimates the number is just 4%.

To get good, however, we will have to tackle problems that have remained difficult to solve over the past decade.

For a start, we have to make sure our data sources are good.

Bain’s research found only 19% of companies had access to “high quality, consistent data” and that 56% simply weren’t collecting useful data (and not just because they lacked the necessary systems).

In addition to good data, we have to break down internal data ownership silos. Analytics will work best for the business when everyone is on the same page.

Analytics done right can improve decision-making, lower risks, and unearth otherwise hidden insights that can be used to create competitive advantage. If you would like to find out how you might be able to analyse and leverage your data and explore how you might discover hidden insights within your data, contact Brennan IT.