Gone are the days when ‘Management Consulting’ was considered to be the epitome of knowledge and skills, the days when your experience and gut feeling were enough to solve complex business problems and companies were ready to pay hefty bills for your service (the 10 slide presentation at the end of the project). Today we know consultants as people who save their clients almost enough to pay their fee. I always had this idea in my mind that consulting was about answering business questions through analysis. It was supposed to be Excel sheets and models, sifting through data to discover profit and loss, and helping clients make decisions that would add the most value for themselves, and by extension, society.
Today we can see that ‘Business Analytics’ is the emerging and fastest growing technology which every organization is embracing. As per Gartner’s prediction, by 2014, 30 percent of analytic applications will use proactive, predictive and forecasting capabilities, and the software market for business intelligence, analytics and corporate performance management grew by 13.4% in 2010 to $10.5 billion and would continue to grow. It can be startling to hear how much data has been created and collected in the last few years. For instance, 15 of the top 17 industry sectors in the United States have more data stored per company than the Library of Congress (which has collected 235 terabytes of data). The growth of external, social and unstructured data has been even more rapid. In fact, 90 percent of the entire world’s data was created in the last 2 years. All the data is there, and it is useful if we can harness it in the right way to increase our collective knowledge. Big data has become the new paradigm of knowledge assets.
Now more and more organizations are embedding Analytics and just like Finance, HR, Sales, Marketing etc. organizations are creating departments for Analytics! This presents an exciting prospect for all those who are at the vanguard of this revolution, to help create functional units in companies and create systems and processes that would cut across departments and enable companies to utilize the full power of data.
The best part of Analytics as a profession is that depending on your ability and interests, you can choose to pursue a more technical based career path or a more consulting (converting data to Insights and Strategies) based career path and each of them is equally rewarding. Analytics is a sublime intersection of Science and Art, and with each progressing day, as data processing continues to get faster and faster, it offers exciting challenges and ensures that the learning curve remains steeper than ever. Just when you think that you know all about Analytics, there is always something new which comes up to take your complacence away. Just when you thought that SQL/Oracle was the way to go in data storage, newer, faster and mightier data bases like Netezza, Terra Data emerged. ‘Hadoop’ is not a character out of Scooby Doo, but a fast emerging technique in the world of Big Data and distributed computing. Knowing Logistic regression and CHAID is no longer enough as you have ‘Random Forests’ to deal with. “Nearest Neighbor” is not the person in the cubicle next to you, but a fast emerging technique in the world of Machine Learning.
All in all the future for business analytics is bright and there is lot to explore and learn in this wide field full of new technologies and exciting roadblocks to keep your mind running at full throttle.