Oracle’s Scenario Planning is Early Out of the Gate, but Leaves Ample Room for Competition

Ted Cuzzillo,
Principal Analyst – Data Analytics

Summary Bullets:

• Oracle rolls out a lightweight scenario planning application within its planning ecosystem

• The market for scenario planning support is ripe for new entries in a year of unexpected change

Oracle has come out of the gate early with capabilities explicitly aimed at scenario planning — which in Oracle’s rendition of the classic method is at best a lightweight version that gets lost within the vendor’s rich planning ecosystem.

Whatever support Oracle offers for the venerable method is unclear. But at least it picked the right year to revive the name. True scenario planning would be useful to a business world that struggles to see its way past the pandemic. How does any business leader know which path offers the quickest, safest path? What if they bet on the wrong one? Continue reading “Oracle’s Scenario Planning is Early Out of the Gate, but Leaves Ample Room for Competition”

Teradata Tries to Shake Off Its ‘Just a Storage Vendor’ Stereotype

Ted Cuzzillo,
Principal Analyst – Data Analytics

Summary Bullets:

  • Longtime database vendor and now also analytics vendor Teradata is trying to fight off the perception that it just does data storage.
  • Teradata, in character with its quiet and reliable reputation, struck at the stereotype recently by announcing an expansion of its 20-year-old academic program.

Underneath all the buzz of technology marketing is the steady hum of stuff just working. Part of that hum seems to have always been Teradata, which has been around so long that the name even goes back to when a terabyte of data was impressive.

It’s been humming for so long that it carries a stale stereotype — propagated even by some people who should know better. They still say it offers only data storage. Never mind its strong, nimble analytics wares. Continue reading “Teradata Tries to Shake Off Its ‘Just a Storage Vendor’ Stereotype”

Story-First Data App Lands in North America, Tells ‘Only What You Need To Know’

Ted Cuzzillo,
Principal Analyst – Data Analytics

Summary Bullets:

• The new tool’s story-first approach may succeed in winning over the vast numbers of business users who never use data.

• The software maker, Toucan, should consider new messaging and take more seriously the threat from other vendors to imitate its approach.

How do you present data to those who would rather run away at the first sight of a dashboard? Multiple surveys over the years all come to a similar conclusion: roughly three quarters of business people feel this way. They could use data but never do. Now a product out of Paris, France works on a radical idea: message first, data second to deliver only what people “need to know.”

That data-second concept bucks the conventional assumption, that users want data to make their own observations and conclusions. And they want to drill down as far as questions may lead them.

Toucan Toco’s top down approach is absolutely not self-service. Presentations are created by authors, who are forced to simplify and focus data in a lockstep path with very few choices. Authors can’t even change fonts. Toucan Toco enforces simplicity.

Messages have such primacy that creators can actually sketch out a presentation with fake data to create placeholders for real data. That’s easy to do because Toco ignores an old assumption, that those engaged in data like to drill down. Toco gives them, as the product literature puts it, only what they “need to know.”

Toucan’s bold rejection of analytics industry dogma — self-service, data’s primacy, and almost infinite accommodation to a user’s inquiries — naturally inspires a question. What market is there? Continue reading “Story-First Data App Lands in North America, Tells ‘Only What You Need To Know’”

Tableau Still Helps People See and Understand Data, but Which People?

Ted Cuzzillo,
Principal Analyst – Data Analytics

Summary Bullets:

  • Salesforce’s acquisition of Tableau was a milestone for the inception of a new, post-Tableau era of innovation.
  • Tableau’s absorption within Salesforce will leave competitive space for new products.

Back at Tableau’s first release in 2004, many data analysts felt their hearts stir. Some had already dreamed of data analysis that went as deep and as fast as the mind could go, but now Tableau made it possible. All they needed then was access to the data inside IT’s vaults. But that access to data was a problem for many IT departments, and there began a long insurgency. Continue reading “Tableau Still Helps People See and Understand Data, but Which People?”

Using Alt Data to Glimpse the Alt Future

Ted Cuzzillo, Principal Analyst – Data Analytics

Summary Bullets:

• Alternative data, or alt data, can indicate new trends much faster than conventional data

• Alt data is for domain experts only

The dawning of new trends might be described as being “like a string hanging down from the future.” That’s how the renowned forecaster Paul Saffo described it. The future first presents itself like the “odd event you can’t get out of your mind [that] could be a weak signal of a distant industry-disrupting S curve…”

Everyone’s looking for signs of the future. What’s going to happen to us? Who will suffer? When will the economy recover? Eyes are peeled for that weak but portentous S-curve.

The trouble, of course, is the abundance of those hanging strings. The great challenge is to distinguish strings that have real prescience. That’s true in ordinary times, but it’s far more important during upheavals like COVID and the shaken economy to follow. Alt-data customers say standard financial indicators and statistical releases are too slow. Continue reading “Using Alt Data to Glimpse the Alt Future”

Data Analysis Teams with Data Synthesis to Navigate a Shaken Economy

Ted Cuzzillo,
Principal Analyst – Data Analytics

Summary Bullets:

• Analysis isn’t enough anymore. To be truly data driven, organizations also need synthesis.

• The analysis-synthesis duo can thrive if supported by a handful of conditions and practices within the organization.

The recent QlikWorld Online conference came and went with no new public roadmap, but it did offer something better: an intriguing vision of an analytics trend that’s built on a handful of new requirements — which altogether stand as a row of streetlights for the analytics industry to portend a new road.

In “2020 Trends: Analytics Alone is No Longer Enough,” Qlik senior director of global market intelligence Dan Sommer argued that today analytics needs its other half, synthesis. This seems especially relevant and timely for the new pandemic-ravaged world. Continue reading “Data Analysis Teams with Data Synthesis to Navigate a Shaken Economy”

What Does It Mean to Be ‘Data Driven’?

Ted Cuzzillo,
Principal Analyst – Data Analytics

Summary Bullets:

  • To be ‘data driven’ is to be story driven.
  • Understanding data depends on the knowledge brought to it.

It’s stylish these days to be ‘data driven’ even while almost no one talks about what that really means. Data is just a proxy, the spokes on the wheel, the shorthand for what’s really going on. What’s the real driver?

During a blizzard, for example, we may talk about degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius. But that’s shorthand for the cold and snow, which is what actually drives decisions about what to wear or whether to go out at all.

One vendor that seems to look behind the proxy is Narrative Science. At in early May event, several speakers helped explain what it is to be truly data driven. Two in particular were notable. Continue reading “What Does It Mean to Be ‘Data Driven’?”

COVID19: No City Gets Smart in a Crisis: Three Ways Tech Vendors Can Help

Ted Cuzzillo,
Principal Analyst – Data Analytics

Summary Bullets:

• Technology vendors should stay away from cities during the height of the COVID-19 crisis unless they’ve got a relationship already.

• Make sure your solution fits the city’s ecosystem and be ready to educate city staff.

The pandemic seems to some data technology vendors like as a great time to be heroes with the frantic staff in cities’ public health departments. But the advice from those close to the action is clear: If you don’t have a relationship with the city already, stay home for now — and get ready for what comes next.

For now, as one observer noted, city public health staffs are getting by on old-fashioned techniques that were first validated during the London cholera outbreak of 1854. Continue reading “COVID19: No City Gets Smart in a Crisis: Three Ways Tech Vendors Can Help”

COVID-19: Don’t Miss This Moment – Invest Now in Data Literacy

Ted Cuzzillo,
Principal Analyst – Data Analytics

Summary Bullets:

  • The world will find its way through the COVID-19 pandemic with data.
  • Data analysts will be among the ordeal’s heroes, and organizations with strong data literacy throughout will recover the fastest. Invest now in data literacy.

Doctors, nurses, and hospitals are the frontline heroes for the acute victims of the COVID-19 virus. But data is everyone’s compass — today as ‘the curve’ signals danger and eventually as the curve signals hope.

It’s a good time to understand data. Many organizations in the western hemisphere now face their greatest peril of our lifetimes. Those that survive will eventually face another daunting task: rebuilding in a new, different economy. Understanding data – knowing how to read it, organize it, prepare it, analyze it, and explain it – will be crucial. Continue reading “COVID-19: Don’t Miss This Moment – Invest Now in Data Literacy”

Data Presentation Made Super-Simple for Those with Little Time for Data

Ted Cuzzillo,
Principal Analyst – Data Analytics

Summary Bullets:

• Toucan Toco offers template-driven data presentations for simple and fast production.

• The tool found a market in France, now tries for the U.S.

We’ve heard enough of that tired promise “easy to use,” yet here comes another one — and this one delivers. It pushes “simple” to an extreme. The tool is by Toucan, a software provider based in Paris, France. It introduced Toco in 2014, designed to pick up where data analysis tools leave off: with the presentation.  The French market, where Toucan has its base, loves it. Toucan claims that its Toco SaaS product has won more than 140 Fortune 500 customers since the tool’s introduction in 2014.

The secret sauce is no surprise: templates. The producer builds a Toco “app” on a fast march, on the cloud, from start to finish: Fill in a title in the “title” box, fill in a summary in the “summary” box, and connect one or many data sources. The result, surprising given the ease of production, can contain a wide variety of charts up to several levels deep, all ready to display well on desktops or mobile devices.
Unlike sophisticated data analysis software, which invite exploration, Toco shows only what the producer deems important.  An objection may arise from executives asked to approve a Toco license. What about the tools we have right now? Why the redundancy? Can’t they easily produce such presentations already? Toucan’s answer is, yes, of course those other solutions can do it. But those who’ve tried to make them do it, says Toucan, have found it difficult and time consuming. These complex data analysis tools just aren’t made to gear down fast enough from Ferrari-like performance to a walk in the park.
Data experts may turn up their noses at Toco. But those who know or care nothing about data analysis will turn their heads for Toucan’s Toco and similar solutions. Toco may be one of the first to colonize a frontier that big and sophisticated tools have found impenetrable. An enigmatic 75 percent or so of business users have no use for data. The tool will also work in smart cities. There, data will flow to an audience of whom many will not have the ability or patience to comprehend the analytics process. They just want the results.
Watch for this and similar solutions to gain importance over the next few years.