Thirst for Advanced Analytics Driving Increased Need for Collective Intelligence
By John K. Thompson – General Manager, Advanced Analytics, Dell Software
Sometimes the technical capabilities and industry trends with the greatest potential impact aren’t the newest ones. Such is the case in the IT industry right now when it comes to advanced analytics and collective intelligence.
The use of complex algorithms and sophisticated statistical models to analyze data and information is not a new phenomenon. In fact, the industry’s leading predictive analytics software solutions have been around for decades. And yet, thanks to significant advancements in our ability to capture, store, and integrate data, combined with businesses’ growing desire to keep up with – and ultimately predict – rapidly changing customer behaviors, interest in predictive analytics technology is at an all-time high.
Similarly, the idea of collective intelligence has been talked about for ages. And yet, when I speak to customers, prospects, industry analysts, and colleagues – most of whom have seen more than their fair share of IT trends come and go and come again – no current topic of discussion grabs and holds their attention more than the notion of collective intelligence. Intersect the two and you have a combination of technological capability and shared know-how powerful enough to change the world. And no, that’s not overstating it.
In the modern, data-driven era in which we now live, advanced analytics has become a must-have capability. And not just for the success of businesses, but for the advancement of society at large. Consider that the ability of companies to innovate is – right now, today – already largely tied to their ability to understand and predict changes in human behavior. This close correlation between prediction and innovation will only grow more pronounced in the years ahead, to the point where you likely won’t find one without the other. In other words, advancements in the fields of healthcare, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and manufacturing – the very advancements societies depend on to remain viable – will be largely tied to our ability to widely deploy advanced analytics.
As far as capabilities go, this doesn’t really pose a problem. As noted earlier, advanced analytics is a mature field that’s been around as long as computers themselves. But, as the findings of any recent industry survey on the state of data analytics projects will quickly tell you, there’s a significant skills gap, generally labeled as a dearth of so-called “data scientists.” Dispute the label if you’d like, but there’s no disputing the fact that there’s a dangerous worldwide shortage in the skills required to develop and deploy advanced statistical and analytical models, one that’s not likely to disappear anytime soon.
Certainly, additional advancements in technology, specifically those that abstract complexity and make advanced analytics more attainable to business analysts and other end users, can help address this growing skills gap. But that alone isn’t likely to be enough – especially in the here and now. That’s where collective intelligence comes into play.
If there’s an important lesson to be gleaned from the success of modern crowdsourcing and crowdfunding campaigns, it’s that there’s greater value in information if it can be shared more readily with more people. It’s the old cliché about the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. In this case, the shared intelligence of 100 data scientists is far greater than the individual intelligence of 100 data scientists. After all, why rely on four or five data scientists in your own organization when you can turn to data scientists around the world for insight and perspective? A collective approach to analytics intelligence has far greater potential impact than if we as analytics professionals restrict ourselves, our companies, and our industries to the intelligence confined within our corporate walls.
Fortunately, some in the industry are already responding to the growing need for collective intelligence in the analytics community. A great example of this is Apervita, a leading health analytics community that’s facilitating collective intelligence by simplifying how people author, publish and use health analytics, including algorithms, quality and safety measures, pathways and protocols. A number of notable healthcare organizations have already joined this community to share advanced predictive models and medical knowledge with a broader audience. By enabling anyone, anywhere to create and subscribe to analytics and then easily integrate them into their workflows, this collective intelligence approach is making it easier for health researchers and practitioners worldwide to have a positive global impact on health.
I’m confident this collective intelligence message will continue to resonate, especially as we as an industry share more examples of all the amazing things we can accomplish with distributed intelligence. After all, we’ve always known that “two heads are better than one,” so imagine what can be done when you amplify that with hundreds of thousands of smart people and interactive models. Dare I say, enough to change the world.
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