Cloud Analytics: What it means, why it matters, and best practices

What is cloud analytics?

Cloud analytics is a service model in which data analytics and business intelligence (BI) processes take place on remote servers rather than a company’s on-premise servers. Because the analytics vendor or third-party partner typically manages setup and maintenance, cloud data analytics makes it easy for businesses to empower all employees with deep data insights through scalability, performance, reliability and cost savings.

Why is cloud analytics important?

Cloud analytics makes it much easier to implement, manage and access analytics for all users. Companies and organizations no longer need to worry about costly infrastructure or update software, while individuals have the ease of access from any approved device. As a result more focus is on the insights from analytics to make better business decisions.

Cloud analytics by the numbers

  • smaller IT budget1

  • increase in operating profit1

  • growth in cloud BI adoption2

As companies rely more on data and analytics to streamline processes and make more informed decisions, an increasing number of organizations are turning to cloud analytics to launch and scale analytics solutions faster while reducing IT costs. According to research by Dresner3, 48 percent of respondents say cloud BI is “critical” or “very important” to their organization. In addition, current use and plans for implementing cloud data analytics continue to climb. In fact, SaaS and cloud computing are ranked 12th in importance among a list of 37 BI technologies being studied — a nearly 15% increase in just one year3. From optimizing operations and enabling real-time customer communication, to detecting fraud and powering AI algorithms and IoT networks, cloud-based analytics are helping organizations compete more effectively.

What are the different types of cloud analytics?

Cloud analytics shifts analytics and BI processing from on-premise servers to cloud networks, and can be deployed in a variety of ways.
  • Public cloud: Services are shared by multiple companies, but each company’s data and applications are hidden from each other. Companies choose this option to get benefits like higher performance or manageability, while keeping costs down.
  • Private cloud: Usually behind a firewall, private cloud services and hardware are dedicated to one company. Organizations with highly sensitive data, such as banks or medical organizations, may choose a private cloud for increased security.
  • Hybrid: A mixture of private and public clouds, companies that choose hybrid deployments get the best of both worlds. They can keep highly sensitive data in a private cloud while moving less sensitive data to a public cloud at a lower cost.
  • Hybrid and Multi-cloud: Many organizations use a mixture of different Public, Private and even on-premises approaches to optimize security, scalability and total cost of ownership. Best-in-class analytics solutions embrace this approach so organizations can choose which data is stored where and where analytics occurs.

What are the major benefits of cloud analytics?

From scalability and security to maintenance and cost savings, cloud data analytics provides valuable benefits to companies of all sizes. Following are some reasons why companies are moving their analytics processes to the cloud.
  • Centralized Data: When data is scattered across your CMS, ERP, marketing automation and countless other systems, it’s hard to get a complete view of your business. A cloud data analytics solution brings all of this data together to maximize insights for everyone across the organization.
  • Scalability: Rather than purchasing new hardware as your data needs change, cloud analytics gives you the ability to turn services on and off as needed. For example, if you have a spike in data, you can quickly scale up your services, and then scale back down again when there’s less activity.
  • Security and Governance: Security is built into cloud data analytics solutions, but governance can be challenging. The best solutions help you set user permissions to ensure everyone has access to the data they need, in addition to providing transparency and accountability.
  • Maintenance: Updates and upgrades are performed automatically in cloud data analytics solutions. That means organizations save costs in the long run, as they don’t have to worry about ongoing maintenance associated with on-premise servers.
  • Cost Savings: With cloud based analytics, you’ll reduce the risk that comes with making upfront hardware investments for on-premise servers. In addition, because you won’t need in-house expertise to maintain servers and software, you’ll cut even more costs.

Key capabilities of cloud data analytics platforms

With so many cloud analytics solutions on the market, choosing the right one for your business can be a challenge. Here’s what to look for.
  • Truly cloud-based: Many claim to be cloud but require local software for development. If creating the analytics requires local software, then it isn’t cloud analytics. Performing the development in the cloud is not only easier for the user, it also ensures a security risk is not created by local copies of data.
  • Third-party data integration: Organizations typically find it challenging to integrate data from third-party sources. With cloud-based analytics, you can easily collect, consolidate and analyze financial, demographic, and even weather data for more complete insights.
  • Self-service and readily available data: You don’t have to be a coding pro in order to get in-depth insights about your data. The best cloud-based analytics solutions give business users easy access to data, allowing them to explore and analyze in all possible contexts, without limitations.
  • Flexible, governed collaboration: Your cloud analytics platform should allow you to easily assign and change permissions so you can ensure that your data is secure, and that the right people have access to the right data when they need it.
  • Ability to share on any device: From laptops to smartphones, the best cloud analytics solutions provide users with a consistent, comprehensive experience regardless of device. This includes the ability to analyze and share data and apps, anywhere.

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References

  1. Lock, Michael. “Running Lean Analytics with a Cloud or Hybrid Approach.” Aberdeen Research. April 2016.
  2. Bange, Carlson and Eckerson, Wayne. “BI and Data Management in the Cloud: Issues and Trends.” BARC Research Group. January 2017.
  3. "2019 Wisdom of Crowds® Cloud Business Intelligence Market Study", Dresner Advisory Services. March 2019.

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