For small and medium companies, BA is a new frontier for many if not all. Hence a cloud model would be instrumental to keep the cost low while validating the return on investment (ROI) for BA. Once validated, staying on cloud should be a natural choice. In short, organisations regardless of their size can benefit tremendously from the upfront stage of experimentation to the longer term implementation and operation.
Look before you leap
Of course, there are both sides to the coin. Issues such as data security and service level agreement (SLA) managements remain to be the typical cloud deployment challenges, though these would be across the board for all cloud solutions, regardless whether it is BA or not.
Ultimately BA on cloud is not a magic wand that can work wonders by itself. Decision-makers who are looking to adopt BA cloud solutions need to make strategic considerations before taking that leap. The recommended strategy is to start with experimentation on cloud BA at minimal or incremental costs. If data security is an issue, data should be de-sensitised yet made meaningful for BA. In many cases, the BA algorithm can work on pure numbers alone, leaving the final interpretation done by the end-users. For example, a cross selling analytics may produce the result of likelihood of product code '123' being bought with product code '345' is 80 per cent, leaving out the actual product details which could be sensitive, and yet a trained end-user can still interpret the results meaningfully.
The future of BA on the cloud
Due to the advantages it offers as well as the growth of digital data every day, the future looks bright for BA on the cloud. In a recent IDC survey, 50 per cent of respondents said it was highly likely they would pursue the public cloud for BI/analytics and nearly 70 per cent said it was likely they would pursue a private cloud deployment.
If anything, BA on the cloud will accelerate the take-up rate of BA given that experimentation is made cheaper and more straightforward. Overall, adoption of the cloud on BA may take time to materialise because of inherent constraints such as lack of data, hence the time needed on data collection, or the usual herd syndrome of waiting for the early adopters to prove the usefulness. A realistic timeframe to see early successes could be in 2012, with mass adoption in subsequent years, following the proverbial technology innovation S-Curve phenomenon. Thanks to the cloud, the rules of the game to BA adoption have changed. The ball is in your court.
Lau Shih Hor is the CEO of Elixir Technology, one of the first companies in Asia to introduce a BA cloud solution in 2010, Elixir Ambience.
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